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Trans-Siberian Orchestra brings Beethoven to Charleston

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Trans-Siberian Orchestra is a regular visitor to Charleston with its popular Christmas show. The group presents a different program, "Beethoven's Last Night," when it comes to the Civic Center on Tuesday. The storyline imagines that Beethoven finished his mythical 10th Symphony on the eve of his death.
WANT TO GO?Trans-Siberian Orchestra's 'Beethoven's Last Night'WHERE: Charleston Civic CenterWHEN: 7:30 p.m. TuesdayTICKETS: $40.50, $50.50 and $60.50INFO: 800-745-3000 or CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Christmas comes a little early for Trans-Siberian Orchestra fans Tuesday night at the Civic Center -- just so long as the fans aren't actually expecting Christmas carols. The larger-than-life rock opera outfit best known for its annual holiday tours is out this spring with one of its non-holiday shows, which musical director Al Pitrelli said is just as big, loud and as much fun as one of the group's winter shows."It's a big arena-rock show times a million," Pitrelli said. "We're going to come and do our show, but we're going to be entirely enveloped in lasers and video screens."It's over the top -- just like it's supposed to be."The show is called "Beethoven's Last Night." Written by TSO composer and lyricist Paul O' Neill and sound engineer Robert Kinkel, it was released as a concept rock album in 2000. Songs from the album were occasionally featured in TSO concerts, but it wasn't until 2010 that the full record was toured as a show.
The album recently was reissued as a double CD set and includes the narration used during live performances.Like other TSO shows, "Beethoven's Last Night" is a mix of Broadway, rock 'n' roll and classical music. It tells the tale of composer Ludwig Van Beethoven and his mythical 10th Symphony.Even without TSO adding to it, Beethoven's story is legendary. The volatile composer wrote some of the most recognizable music in history, much of it while losing his hearing or after he'd gone completely deaf.Among his works, Beethoven wrote nine official symphonies. A tenth, mostly musical sketches and notes, remained unfinished at the time of his death in 1827. Since then, legends have grown about a finished symphony existing somewhere.
"Beethoven's Last Night" considers that the composer finished the symphony on the eve of his death."Then we added a Robert Johnson-esque aspect to the story," said Pitrelli, referencing the early American blues singer. "The devil comes to bargain for Beethoven's immortal soul."Deals with the devil are a familiar and favorite storyline in rock music. Pitrelli said this tale is a dark story but also a beautiful one. There's tragedy, but it's uplifting. He added that the musical styling of the show (classical meets heavy metal) fits very well with the source material."You just listen to the opening of Beethoven's Fifth," he said. "That, toe to toe, is as heavy as anything Black Sabbath did. If anything, it got the whole heavy thing started."The challenge for TSO, he said, isn't to make the classical works sound metal and modern but to articulate Beethoven's music the way it should be while the stage around the performers burns.Pitrelli said, "That's something Chopin and Beethoven never had to contend with: top-notch propane pyro."
He added that, if TSO does its job right, just about everyone from grade school kids to grandparents will have a rockin' good time.Reach Bill Lynch at or 304-348-5195.
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