Make Christmas last at least one day longer by taking the family to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's elaborate, inspirational, over-the-top holiday extravaganza on Sunday evening...

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Make Christmas last at least one day longer by taking the family to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s elaborate, inspirational, over-the-top holiday extravaganza on Sunday evening at KeyArena.

The two-hour show is a nonstop multimedia blitz of narration, lasers, fog machines, falling snow and powerful music. The story line this year is about an angel who comes down from heaven in search of the person whose prayers are the purest ever heard.

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With an orchestra, string section and rock band, the show, with a cast of about 25, is mostly music, mixing classical arrangements of beloved hymns such as “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “Joy to the World,” “O Holy Night” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” with such heavy-metal originals as “Siberian Sleigh Ride” and “Wish Liszt (Toy Shop Madness).”

While Grandma may wonder what the screaming guitar solos have to do with Christmas, longtime Trans-Siberian fans know that the holiday show was originally developed by a heavy-metal band, Savatage, following the quirky international success of its 1995 single “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24.”



Concert preview



Trans-Siberian Orchestra, 7:30 p.m. Sunday, KeyArena, Seattle Center; $28-$43 (206-628-0888, www.ticketmaster.com or www.hob.com; information: 206-684-7200, www.seattlecenter.com, www.trans-siberian.com).


The song was inspired by the true story of a cellist who ignored the violent conflict going on in the former Yugoslavia then and played in the streets during Christmastime, while bullets whizzed around him. He became a symbol of defiance and tradition, especially in Eastern Europe.

The following year, Savatage embarked on a holiday tour backed by a symphony orchestra it dubbed Trans-Siberian, because it had a Christmassy but also Eastern European feeling to it. The tour was so popular, it has been repeated every year since. Savatage faded away, but the Trans-Siberian Orchestra lives on, becoming one of the top holiday entertainment attractions in the world.

The orchestra has some new music to play this year, thanks to its new CD, “The Lost Christmas Eve,” released in October. Its 23 cuts feature the Trans-Siberian style of rock, which is influenced by heavy-metal, Broadway, classical music and R&B.

More than 1 million people have seen the annual holiday shows, and many of them have sold out, even those that have come after Christmas.

Patrick MacDonald: 206-464-2312 or pmacdonald@seattletimes.com