Pair uses Radford's original score to pay tribute

Skater penned music following death of coach Wirtz in 2006

Performing next season's short program will be an emotional experience for Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford.
Performing next season's short program will be an emotional experience for Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford. (Getty Images)


Related Content Top Headlines
By Lois Elfman, special to
(05/02/2013) - While there have probably been skaters over the course of history who've performed to original music at the Olympic Winter Games, there most certainly have not been any who have composed the music themselves.

Two-time Canadian pairs champion Eric Radford hopes to change that next year.

He and partner Meagan Duhamel are skating their 2013-14 short program to music Radford composed.

"I've had friends, when they've heard my music, say, 'You should skate to this,'" said Radford, who began studying piano at age 8 and has been composing almost since day one. "Finally, with the way things have been building, I've had the means in order to make it all happen."

Last summer, Radford approached choreographer Julie Marcotte about the idea of using music he'd composed in 2006 following the death of his then coach, Paul Wirtz.

"I credit Paul to really training me into the skater I am," said Radford, who began taking from Wirtz in Toronto when he was 16. "He gave me all of my technique, my understanding of jumping. He guided me into having this classical style of skating. He gave me confidence to go in that direction.

"When he passed away, it really turned my whole world upside down. He was all I knew at that time when it came to skating. It was a huge thing in my life."

When Duhamel, 27, and Radford, 28, teamed up in 2010, both were close to quitting the sport after years of disappointment. Since winning the Canadian title in 2012 -- they repeated this year and won the bronze medal at the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships -- they have often spoken about having a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation for their success.

After Marcotte was receptive to the idea of using Radford's composition, they took the idea to Duhamel. She was initially concerned she wouldn't be able to relate to it as closely as Radford would, but together with Marcotte, they came up with a concept.

"It is a tribute to everyone who helped us get to where we are," Radford said.

Utilizing a computer program, Radford was able to simulate how a full orchestration of the piece would sound. Once it was decided they would be using the music, he investigated professional arrangers in Montreal. He contacted Louis Babin and met with him.

On April 2, Duhamel and Radford attended a recording session overseen by Babin where a 16-piece string section recorded the music.

"When they ran through it the very first time, it was intensely emotional," Radford recalled. "It was a similar feeling to when I was standing on the podium at worlds. It felt that amazing.

"Especially with what the song was about for me, to hear it come alive like that was very emotional. It actually brought a tear to my eye."

The recording session was filmed by TSN and CBC to be part of pre-Olympic programming that will air in the fall.

All other instruments besides the strings will be digitally added in, including the piano. Radford has heard rough cuts. The final mixing will take place when he returns to Montreal after Stars on Ice Canada.

Marcotte helped Radford structure the piece of music before the recording session. The actual choreography will take place when they commence training in late spring.

He is prepared for both positive and negative feedback after he and Duhamel debut the program.

"No one can say this music has been overused," he said with a laugh. "It's also reaffirmed what I want to do after skating. I really want to finish my music degree and get into composing and the music industry. It's a nice segue for me to a future chapter in my life."