O Canada
Canonic Arrangement for SATB a cappella (1987)
Canonic Arrangement for Medium High Voice and Piano
by Ron Hannah

Composer: Calixa Lavalée
Duration: about 1 minute

     Hands up all those who knew O Canada worked as a canon! I was very surprised to discover this fact, and I produced a choral version that can be sung simultaneously in English and French! More recently, I have also arranged it for solo voice and piano.

     "How did you do that?" I hear you ask, "That's brilliant!" Well, the English and the French words are both printed in each part (since Canada is officially bilingual), and since the sopranos and tenors

Hear computer-generated version:

are singing in canon, one can be in one language and the other in the other. Conductors thus have the option of performing the piece entirely in one language or in both together.

     Ok, you can see from the paragraph above that it's not a strict canon. The sopranos take the melody and the tenors indeed sing in canon with them, while the altos and basses provide the harmonies. Those harmonies are striking and rich, and may come as a surprise at first, especially the modulation from F to Ab at the line "God keep our land/Et ta valeur". It sounds like it might be jarring, but in fact it is smooth as silk and really lifts the feeling of the anthem. I hope people will come to enjoy it!

     The piano version differs slightly, in that the "canon" must remain in the piano accompaniment, which of course the pianist must try to bring out. The part is not difficult (even I can play it!), and I have removed the modulation to Ab in order to keep the voice line from going above an F (the choir sopranos and tenors go up to Ab). It is a most effective arrangement and it was
premièred in Yerevan, Armenia, by myself and my wife, singer/director Andrea Mellis, at a reception honouring 25 years of Canada/Armenia relations.

     You may listen to a computer-generated sound file of the choral version by clicking above, and download page 1 of the choral score also. Many of my scores I have been giving away on this website, always requesting that people let me know of performances so that I can keep my Performance page up-to-date, but practically nobody does. So, I shall make the full scores available through the Canadian Music Centre only, or through contacting me directly, and slowly work my way through the rest of the site, reluctantly doing the same thing with my other works.