Andrew Heller on Christmas Wonder

What prompted you to make the Christmas Wonder CD?

I love Christmas songs and I always sang Christmas songs.  For years I had done shows for other people.  I wanted to do a CD that was different than anything you could get so we put together a large orchestral recording.  There are 94 instrumental tracks on the Cd and it was recorded with the Austin Symphony Orchestra.  There was a not a studio in Austin big enough to record with everyone so we would record 8-10 members at a time and put them together.  I was a guest soloist for the Austin Symphony Orchestra for the Christmas Sing-Along.  I love the music.  It fits into my reason for singing – it is uplifting.  It makes you feel better. It makes the audience feel hopeful and full of Christmas spirit.  I was born in the northeast so I really relate to all of the snow songs and winter wonderland aspect of some of the songs. 

 Do any special Christmas memories play in to the songs you chose for the Christmas Wonder CD?

I just love Christmas music.  The songs make me feel good. I chose the songs that I liked and I put them together in an order that I felt comfortable with. I work very hard on the sequence.  It is as important as the music itself. I wanted something that could be a sing-along CD.  When you go out to sing carols, how do you feel?  You feel good right?  It doesn’t matter how long you sing.  The music just makes you happy.  That is what this CD is all about. You listen to the songs and they evoke personal memories for each individual and family.

Please share your memories and thoughts about the songs on Christmas Wonder.

Winter Wonderland.  A song about fun in the snow.  It is what you do during the winter when you are a kid – make a snow man and walk in wonder. For me Winter Wonderland is a song about joking around with friends and making snow angels. Those memories always stick with you. This song is about fun and a feeling of happiness.

White Christmas.  You are thinking about the night before Christmas and the snow coming down, drinking some hot beverages and being around a fire. It is probably the most beautiful song about Christmas from a musical point of view that I have ever heard.  If it is done right it rings in your hear when you hear it.  The music has such a strong emotional attraction.  The words are beautiful.  What a joy to sing with a full orchestra.  It is probably my favorite Christmas song.

Sleigh Ride. A happy, upbeat winter song. When I was in my teens my family would go out to Aspen and we would take sleigh rides.  If you have ever been on a sleigh ride at night under a blanket with the bells ringing it is something you never forget.

Do You Hear What I Hear? That is a song that plays to your heart about remembering the reason for Christmas.  It is a song that ties together the message of Christ and his birth and the inclusion of everyone from the lowly shepherds to the kings and how they relate to the King of Man.

Oh Holy Night. I happen to love the chorus. It brings me almost to tears every time I sing it.  It is a song you feel.  The words fit the music but you have to sing it with emotion. When you declare “fall on your knees” it vibrates throughout your body in an almost holy way.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas. That is a song that reminds me of going at night down Fifth Avenue in New York and going into F.A.O. Schwarz as a kid with my parents.  It’s about all of the wonderful windows and the sounds of Christmas – the bells ringing for the Salvation Army, the vendors selling chestnuts on the street, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral all decorated for Christmas.  It was so exciting for me to get to go to New York or Chicago around the holidays.  I loved it all.

Silver Bells.  More about a feeling than it is about a particular image.  It is a feeling of Christmas – of warmth and people being together.  In the big cities people are more open and the speak and say Merry Christmas.  Silver Bells evokes those feelings.

The Christmas Song. This is not a song I ever thought deeply about – it was more of a fun song about people.

I’ll be Home for Christmas/Home for the Holidays Medley.  I put these songs on the CD hoping that people would be listening to it with their families and thinking of their families during the holidays as so many people do.  It is that time of year to be with and think of the ones you love.  Intentionally there to tell the story about getting together as a family and that is why I grouped them that way. This is the time to be together and share something very special.

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