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Hey! Somebody Got Some John Tesh in My Metallica!

A mixture along these lines, with a strong dash of Mannheim Steamroller's Christmas records, gives some idea of the flavor of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, which performs this Sunday at the Web Theatre. The entertainingly over-the-top symphonic-rock ensemble, which has nothing whatsoever to do with Siberia or with railroads, is a project of composer and producer Paul O'Neill, and is composed largely of players from the metal band Savatage, fronting a 60-piece orchestra and vocalists.

The group's album of seasonal metal, Christmas Eve and Other Stories, grew out of the instrumental number titled "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24" on the Savatage concept album Dead Winter Dead. This led to a TV special on the Fox Family Channel called The Ghosts of Christmas Eve (with guest-star turns from the likes of Ossie Davis and Jewel), as well as to songs on Rosie O'Donnell's Christmas album and on the soundtrack of the new Grinch movie.

It's also led to this touring show, a sort of rock-opera-metal-oratorio revue in which a narrator tells the tale of an angel who comes to earth on Christmas Eve in search of "the one thing that best represents everything good that has been done in the name of this day." This slight story serves as the link between extravagant arrangements of holiday favorites -- lush power-guitar renditions of "O Holy Night" and "The First Noel" and such.

TSO has recently released its first non-Christmas-themed album, by the way. Titled Beethoven's Last Night, it's a rock opera in which the composer and Mephistopheles fight it out for the former's soul just after he's completed his Tenth Symphony. To paraphrase the wise bard Chuck Berry: Roll over, Ludwig.


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