Trans-Siberian Orchestra returns to Nutter Center

“It really is a remarkable tour,” said TSO drummer Jeff Plate.



By design, Trans-Siberian Orchestra is one of the biggest acts in the Christmas music realm. The group, bringing “Ghost of Christmas Eve: The Best of TSO and More” to the Nutter Center in Fairborn on Saturday, Dec. 3, is a touring and streaming juggernaut thanks to the careful planning of its late founder Paul O’Neill.

O’Neill not only had a background as a touring musician and bandleader but also worked in music management and concert promotion before working in studio production with acts like Aerosmith and Savatage. In 1996, he drew on his diverse experiences to create TSO, a progressive rock spectacle that combined concept albums and holiday themes with state-of-the-art laser light shows and special effects. O’Neill passed away in 2017 but the group continued uninterrupted. The pandemic sidelined TSO for the 2020 holiday season but the team still presented streaming concerts during lockdown before returning to the road in 2021.

Drummer Jeff Plate, one of TSO’s senior members, was with Savatage from 1994 to 2002 and Metal Church from 2006 to 2017. In 2020, he formed Alta Reign, which released its debut album, “Mother’s Day” (Rat Pak Records), in January 2021. Plate recently discussed the latest tour in advance of the Nutter Center engagement.



Q: What does “Ghost of Christmas Eve: The Best of TSO and More” mean to you?

A: It’s really a greatest hits show in the fact that it’s tied to the special we recorded in 1999. It just has a little more energy. It’s a fun show to play and I know the audience has always loved it. The band completely digs playing the show. Production-wise, it allows these guys to do a couple of different things so it’s always interesting.

Q: How does the TSO team manage 100-plus shows between mid-November and the end of the year each year?

A: “Well, in 2000, we split the original cast in two and formed two different touring groups, which is how we can cover all this ground and do all these shows in such a short amount of time. But we’re still doing eight shows in five days basically every week. In general, we have Monday and Tuesday off. We have single shows on Wednesday and Thursday and then double shows on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It’s a lot of work in a short amount of time but I’ve been here from the very first note so I’m very, very comfortable with this. Most of the members of both touring groups have been here for 10 or 12 years. We’ve had few changes here and there but, for the most part, everybody shows up again every year. Everybody knows the drill.

Q: What’s that schedule like?

A: It’s not easy because it’s not just a matter of getting on stage and performing. You’ve got to be a professional off the stage too. You’ve got to allow for the production team to do their thing and coordinate. There is always a lot of work involved in these tours from management, production and the cast so it really is a remarkable tour.



Q: How does the team maintain an ongoing quality control that makes TSO concerts such a magical night for audiences?

A: That’s credit to Paul O’Neill. He created TSO and his lyrics and his stories really brought people in and connected a lot of people to what we’re doing. Musically, it’s fantastic, and the show really is second to none. It’s one of the most brilliant, most unique, things you’re ever going to see. Paul wanted to give the audience a show with everything possible, so we pack as much as possible into these shows.

Q: How has TSO continued to thrive after Paul’s death?

A: Paul, in his genius, created this timeless entity. He used to tell us all the time that TSO was going to outlive us all. It’s going to get passed on from generation to generation. He’d say this stuff to us all the time and, after a while, you start believing it. Then, after a while, you start realizing TSO has become a tradition during the holidays and that’s something you don’t take lightly. We have close to 1 million people coming to our shows every year, not to mention being one of the most downloaded acts during the holidays. There are a number of lists where we rank very, very high and you don’t do that unless you’re doing something that’s important to a lot of people. It’s really cool to think back to when we initially recorded “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)” and see all these years later that it’s still just as strong and, honestly, getting stronger and bigger every year.

Q: Do you see a time when you’ll finally leave TSO?

A: I’m going to be here as long as I can. Obviously, anything can happen but at this point in my career I don’t see it. I began working with Paul O’Neill back in 1994 so I’ve been under this roof, so to speak, for almost 30 years. This has become my life, my career, and I plan on riding this out as long as I possibly can. It’s rewarding to know these tours happen every year. As long as things are on track, it’s going to be awesome.

Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or e-mail at


Who: Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Where: Nutter Center, 3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy., Fairborn

When: 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3

Cost: $32-$112.50

More info: 937-775-4789 or

Artist info:

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