Instrumentation: 2222/43(3rdopt)31/timp, 3 perc(2nd&3rdopt),hp, Organ(opt)/SATB Choir(opt)/strgs
Arrangement Date: 2004
Commissioned: Edmonton Symphony Orchestra
The first question you might be asking is why write a new arrangement of "O Canada." It's a bit like remaking Casablanca, "if it ain't broke don't fix it." The idea arose last season as we were celebration the installation of the Davis Concert Organ. There were quite a few occasions where it would have been very effective to use the organ when we played our national anthem. So I decided to write a flexible arrangement that was specifically written for our orchestra and it's many shapes and sizes. The version you will hear tonight is for orchestra but the arrangement is designed in such a way as to incorporate organ and choir if necessary.
I had two main concerns when I started this piece. One, when to bring in the melody (that's the place where you all stand) because as soon as that happens the piece plays pretty much as you know it. Two, how much to mess around with the version you know. I've heard many arrangements fail because the arranger got way too smart and no one could fine the melody to sing along. I dealt with the first concern by composing a spacious introduction to the piece that builds to a point where it's obvious you should stand and sing. With regards to reworking the original, I have taken some liberties with the harmony and you'll have to tell me how easy it is to sing along. I hope you enjoy my "Winspear Friendly" arrangement of "O Canada" and make sure to drop by throughout the season to hear it with organ and choir.