One of the most recognizable sounds around Christmas time is the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. You’ve heard parts of their songs in commercials, movies, and stores/malls nationwide. I know I have but I did not know who they actually were until last Christmas when I heard one of their songs in a commercial. I found out more about the progressive rock band and their “Christmas Eve-Sarajevo” became an instant favorite. The band came to Birmingham, but schedules didn’t allow for us to see them so we made sure to get the tour dates for this year and schedule some time to see them.
I had heard from some friends that this is a show full of lights and fire. What else could be better?
Before we went, I had to research the “Christmas Eve Sarajevo” story. It is such a powerful instrumental with a dueling effect of orchestra and rock band. The last 10 seconds is just unbelievable with the seemingly conflicting sounds that become one strain of melody. And yes, I did type “seemingly conflicting”. It’s the only way I know how to describe it. From Wiki.
We heard about this cello player born in Sarajevo many years ago who left when he was fairly young to go on to become a well-respected musician, playing with various symphonies throughout Europe. Many decades later, he returned to Sarajevo as an elderly man—at the height of the Bosnian War, only to find his city in complete ruins.
I think what most broke this man’s heart was that the destruction was not done by some outside invader or natural disaster—it was done by his own people. At that time, Serbs were shelling Sarajevo every night. Rather than head for the bomb shelters like his family and neighbors, this man went to the town square, climbed onto a pile of rubble that had once been the fountain, took out his cello, and played Mozart and Beethoven as the city was bombed.
He came every night and began playing Christmas carols from that same spot. It was just such a powerful image—a white-haired man silhouetted against the cannon fire, playing timeless melodies to both sides of the conflict amid the rubble and devastation of the city he loves. Some time later, a reporter traced him down to ask why he did this insanely stupid thing. The old man said that it was his way of proving that despite all evidence to the contrary, the spirit of humanity was still alive in that place.
The song basically wrapped itself around him. We used some of the oldest Christmas melodies we could find, like "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "Carol of the Bells" (which is from Ukraine, near that region). The orchestra represents one side, the rock band the other, and single cello represents that single individual, that spark of hope.
Here are a few pictures from the show. And yes, I have a huge fascination with the violin and piano.
It was one of the best concerts I have ever seen. I want to see this again next year and hopefully, they will include us in their tour schedule.
The concert was in Memphis…one week after the marathon. So, back to Memphis for a quick one night stay. I remember running by the FedEx forum on marathon day and thinking to myself “you will be here in 5 days…don’t come back here with unfinished business”. And I have to say, parking in the same parking garage, walking parts of the race route, and seeing the Fed Ex forum after finishing the 26.2 less than a week earlier was beyond thrilling.
And enjoyed some Christmas in Memphis. I always loved the big city during Christmas. Many good memories there.