2002: I was sitting in my high school Music Theory class discussing different types of music with a classmate when he asked me, "Do you like Trans-Siberian Orchestra?"
I shrugged. "Never heard of them," I replied.
His face managed to both drop and light up at the same time. "Oohhhhhh, man...," he leaned back and shook his head in an awe that only he understood at the time. "You HAVE to listen to them! I'll bring you a CD."
The next day, my classmate presented me with two CDs. They had elegant and colorful album covers, and were titled: "Christmas Eve and Other Stories" and "Beethoven's Last Night". They didn't look like anything particularly spectacular. But being a pianist, a lover of all things musical, and having full trust in my classmate's taste - I figured I'd give them a try.
I went home, popped "Beethoven's Last Night" into my stereo, and flopped down on my bed to listen. What greeted my ears was something I never expected and it gave me instant goosebumps. The first song started with a simple piano excerpt of "Moonlight Sonata" - soothing and relaxing - and then, without warning, exploded into a chorus of piano, violin, electric guitar, bass, and drums into the middle section of "Sonata Pathetique Op. 13".
I sat straight up in my bed in shock at this new and exciting musical style that I couldn't believe I'd been ignorant and deprived of. I continued to listen to both albums straight through, completely lost in the chillingly powerful music.
From that moment on, I was hooked.
I purchased my own copies of their albums and listened to them over and over until I was intimately familiar with every awesome note. I found and purchased their made-for-TV music video movie "The Ghosts of Christmas Eve" on DVD and watched it every year. As the band made more music over the years, I was impressed over and over again with each album release. If I had to choose a favorite album, I suppose it would be "Night Castle" (released in 2009).
Being from a teeny tiny rural area, there wasn't much opportunity to attend any types of concerts without traveling and spending money I didn't have, so I figured there's was a show I would never see.
Some years later in 2009, much to my excitement, I discovered I finally had a chance to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra - for Christmas, no less - because I had travelled to a big city for Christmas that year and they happened to be touring there. However, by the time I had found out about it, they were all but sold out and I was too poor to buy the remaining tickets, so to my dismay, I wasn't able to go.
I've been absolutely dying to see them live, ever since.
Fast-forward to 2016: My boyfriend and I were driving on the freeway one day in Tampa, Florida - where we temporarily lived - and I looked up to see a big billboard advertising Trans-Siberian Orchestra coming to Tampa on their Winter Tour.
Needless to say, I started screeching and spazzing out so much that I nearly lost control of the car. Even through my insane burst of joy, I didn't think I would actually be able to attend, because I knew my boyfriend wasn't aware of how much I'd always wanted to see them (despite my current shrieks to that effect), and I figured it was too expensive a gift to ask of my boyfriend. Trying to calm down, and mentally pep-talking myself into the knowledge that I wouldn't be attending the show, I still secretly hoped that my boyfriend would grant me my Christmas wish of seeing them in concert.
Months passed and I soon became occupied with other things in life, letting the prospect of the concert slip to the back of my mind until I ultimately forgot about it. Neither my boyfriend nor I mentioned the Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert again, because he had never heard of them (much like myself fifteen years ago), and he showed no interest in being exposed to them.
One day in November, my boyfriend was at work and I was sitting in my sewing room working on making a pillow. My boyfriend talks to me sometimes while he's at work through Facebook, but never email, so it was a little bit of a surprise when I randomly got an email from his email address.
Intrigued, but not thinking too much of it, I opened the message on my phone. The first thing I saw was "I LOVE YOU!" at the top above a forwarded photo attachment. I smiled, touched but puzzled, as my eyes drifted down to the photo attachment.
My jaw dropped and my heart skipped a beat. The date was for December 18th. I was FINALLY going to get to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra - and for Christmas!!!
This is the text message I sent my boyfriend right after processing what I was looking at and recovering from my shock-induced stupor...
From that moment on, I was counting down the days until the concert. Every time I thought about it, I was overcome with shivers of excitement and bursts of energy that rivaled the steam engine.
Finally, the day was upon us, and I eagerly took my time getting ready for what I knew was to be one of the most amazing musical shows of my life. I did my hair, makeup, and nails all Christmasy and special, and made sure to bring along my brand new Canon camera with the best optical zoom I've ever seen.
What heightened my excitement even more was the fact that my boyfriend had never heard Trans-Siberian Orchestra, so this would be his first time. Ever since he'd known he was getting the tickets, he wanted to avoid listening to them so that his first experience hearing them was live. What an amazing guy :)
My anticipation was palpable as we took our seats in the arena. I was jittery with glee and sputtered nonsensical excitement garbles more than once. My boyfriend was quite amused by this, and said it made him happy to see me so happy.
Then the lights dimmed and the show began. I watched and listened to the first several minutes with tears of joy happily streaming endlessly down my cheeks. This was a dream come true.
The show continued to be more and more spectacular than I ever imagined it could be. The experience more than spoke for itself, and I was even more thrilled that I was equipped with a brand new camera that could capture these memories in perfect eternity.
My heart nearly leapt from my chest when they began my favorite Christmas song of theirs: "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24". As they began the first few notes, I excitedly patted my boyfriend's leg to indicate to him that this was the song I was looking most forward to hearing. As I did this, the lady behind us said to her companion, "Oh! This is myfavorite one!" Judging from the audience reaction after the performance of that song, I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that it's pretty much everyone's favorite Trans-Siberian Orchestra song.
One of the coolest moments for me was during a slow ballad - true to concert etiquette, little swaying lights began appearing throughout the audience. I was delighted to see that they were not flamed lighters (as normal tradition dictates), but smartphone flashlights! I thought this was an absolutely amazing thing - the tradition had lived on to be carried into and accommodate the digital age.
At one point near the end when the animated graphics turned red and fiery, I leaned over to my boyfriend and whispered, "I hope they do Hall of the Mountain King!" Not three seconds later, I heard the opening chords for "The Mountain" (their rendition of 'Hall of the Mountain King' - that song you heard earlier in this blog from the "Night Castle" album). Needless to say, I was quite thrilled :)
The show continued with too many amazing elements to even begin to list here - suffice to say, the entire experience was like nothing I've ever witnessed or been a part of before.
Fifteen years after discovering the powerful magic of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, I finally got to be in the presence of that magic. It left me touched, inspired, and more than a little teary-eyed. It was the most amazing gift that will go down in my history as one of the best Christmases ever.
As a final note: If you still have not been properly exposed to the majesty that is Trans-Siberian Orchestra, then I hope this post has encouraged you to seek them out. I promise, you will not be disappointed!