The Trans-Siberian Orchestra (often abbreviated to TSO) is a progressive rock band founded in 1996 by producer, composer, and lyricist Paul O'Neill, who brought together Jon Oliva and Al Pitrelli (both members of Savatage) keyboardist and co-producer Robert Kinkel and Dave Wittman engineer to form the core of the creative team.
The orchestra's musical style incorporates classical, orchestral, symphonic, and progressive elements into hard rock and heavy metal. The orchestra is most famous for their rock operas, complete with stories told in both straight prose and poetry form. They have released five rock operas to date. They are also known for their charity work and their elaborate concerts, which are complete with a full orchestra, a massive light show, lasers, dozens of pyrotechnics, moving trusses, video screens, and other effects that are synchronized to the music.
Their debut album, a Christmas-themed rock opera called “Christmas Eve and Other Stories,” was released in 1996. It remains their best-selling album, having been certified 2x platinum, and contains the Savatage song "Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)" as "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24" from their 1995 concept album “Dead Winter Dead.”
Their 1998 platinum selling release “The Christmas Attic,” the sequel to “Christmas Eve and Other Stories” followed a similar format. This album featured what remains one of the orchestra's most recognizable songs, "Christmas Canon," a take on Johann Pachelbel's Canon in D major with lyrics added.
In 1999 they did their first tour, during which they debuted the sections of the “Beethoven's Last Night,” a third rock opera and their first non-Christmas album that was released in the spring of 2000.
After several years of touring, the orchestra returned to the studio and subsequently released another platinum selling album, “The Lost Christmas Eve,” their final Christmas record, in 2004.
After another few years of touring, “Night Castle,” Trans-Siberian Orchestra's latest album, was released on October 27, 2009 debuting at #5 on the Billboard Charts and was certified gold in eight weeks.