Niagara Gazette

Features

December 28, 2009

LIFESTYLE: TSO brings holiday magic back to Buffalo

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra might have a name that implies chilly conditions, but the musical group has been red hot as of late.

The group’s latest album, “Night Castle,” debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard chart upon its Oct. 27 release and is set to go platinum by the end of this year. The group’s annual holiday tour, meanwhile, has continued to sell out on both sides of the continent and is set to perform two shows Wednesday in Buffalo.

Bob Kinkel, the Williamsville native who co-produced “Night Castle,” had a hard time finding the right words to describe TSO’s success.

“We’re just ecstatic,” said Kinkel, who’s been a TSO composer and keyboardist since the group’s inception in 1996. “You never expect anything. You hope that people will like what you do. All you can do is put it out there and see what happens.”

The only happening since the group was formed has been fan adulation. After graduating from Williamsville South High School, Kinkel went to Hamilton College near Utica for pre-med. He took so many music electives, though, that he fulfilled a music major by his junior year, and he then went on to Columbia University to study physics and obtain a master’s degree.

While at Columbia, he worked as a technician at a New York City music studio. While he’d always enjoyed the technical side of making music, it was there that Kinkel said he unearthed his true passion for production.

“I’d been buying synthesizers and equipment since I was about 12,” he said.

Someone at the music studio introduced Kinkel to Paul O’Neill, who wanted Kinkel to help him on a record O’Neill was making for his band Savatage. Kinkel went on to play keyboard for Savatage into the 1990s while also working on some musicals with O’Neill. One of those, “Christmas Eve in Sarajevo 12/24),” went on to become TSO’s first single once the decision was made to shift toward a more classical sound.

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