Christmas music has special meaning for Catonsville musician

Andrew Broadwater has been playing Christmas songs all year long. All the traditional favorites, "Silent Night" and "Jingle Bells" and others, he's played them on the piano, on the viola, even on the steel drum.

Now the results of his labors has been produced as a 10-song instrumental Christmas CD (also available for download) called "Let It Ring."

Last year, the Catonsville native produced the first Christmas song, "What Child Is This," and it was so well-received by friends and family he decided to spend the year producing this collection of Christmas classics.

The 25-year-old's choices for instruments on each song reflect his years of training.

The steel pans and calypso beat in "Jingle Bells" recall his four years as a member of the Catonsville High School Steel Drum Band.

"It's adding some warmth to the holiday season," he quipped.

"What Child is This" is filled with the recorder and viola he studied for his bachelor's degree from the Peabody Conservatory.

The epic film score atmosphere that pervades the collection echoes his work for his master's degree in film score at New York University.

Broadwater played a variety of recorders, the ocarina, piano and keyboards, tin whistles, violin, guitar and ukulele on the CD.

While the very first song was recorded while he was finishing an internship in New York City, most of the music was recorded in a stone-walled studio in the basement of his childhoodhome.

The album, filled with classics, does contain one piece many listeners may not know. "Mary Had a Baby" was written in 1990 by his father, Daniel Broadwater, pastor of Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church in Relay. It was performed several years ago by the Baltimore Choral Arts.

"It has that spiritual feel to it," said the younger Broadwater, who arranged this version as an instrumental.

Broadwater, whose brother Luke works for The Sun, credits another brother, Ben, for creating the graphics and artwork for the album cover.

The album was promoted at his church and also will be given to members of Emmanuel Lutheran Church for making a donation to a youth program sending teens on a youth mission. Clara Croll, a neighbor of the Broadwaters, organized the "thank you gift."

Music has played a major role in Broadwater's life since grade school. He started piano lessons in first grade, recorder in third, violin in fifth.

It seems like every two years or so, he has turned to another instrument to learn and master. "It's addicting," he said..

In high school, he turned to the steel drum.

"That was probably the best experience of high school," he said. "It helped me to grow musically."

Now that is first CD is done, Broadwater is looking to his next, a collection of his own compositions along with a few new arrangements of old favorites.

And maybe he'll learn the bagpipes.

For the moment, he is living in his family home, teaching private lessons as well as at Appalachian Bluegrass.

He works with Cleancuts, a Baltimore area music and sound design company, and with Studio Unknown, a Catonsville recording studio.

Twice a week, he teaches higher level music theory and composition at Lancaster Bible College in Pennsylvania.

And when he can, he makes time to compose his own music.

"Let It Ring" is for sale at Appalachian Bluegrass, 643 Frederick Road, and Trax on Wax, 709 Frederick Road.

Digital downloads available at iTunes and

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad