KARL HUGO’S STORY
Karl Hugo is a prolific pianist, singer, composer and songwriter whose works are aired in over 100 countries throughout the world on prestigious networks such as ABC, BBC One, CBC, Disney Channel, Disney Channel Asia, Fox Japan, Indosiar, MediaCorp Channels 5 & 8, Telemundo, TF1, Zee Café India and on many airlines.
Karl began playing and composing on the piano as a child, creating his first concerto when he was barely a teenager. During this period, he won several prizes and awards including a 1st prize in the Canadian Federation of Music Teachers’ Associations Music Writing Competition and completed music commissions for Les Grands Ballets Canadiens and ICI Radio-Canada Télé (CBC). He studied piano with the great piano teacher Lucille Brassard, composition with André Prévost and orchestration with Alan Belkin. Karl completed his musical education with classical singing, violin, bassoon, audiovisual production and orchestral conducting under renowned maestro Alexander Brott.
In 1992, Karl realised that he no longer wanted to restrict himself to classical music and released a popular piano album entitled Momentum. He then met Ice Capades star Julie Brault with whom he filmed Broadway, an ambitious video combining piano and figure skating. For the occasion, Kawai loaned him its famous Crystal Grand, the beginning of a sponsorship that would last for many years.
Inspired by Karl’s passion for figure skating and his grandiose musical style, Olympic medalists Isabelle Brasseur & Lloyd Eisler asked him to compose and perform original music live for their television production Dreams on Ice, an annual fundraising event broadcast on more than forty television stations for many years. This unique experience afforded Karl the pleasure of watching great figure skaters the likes of Ekaterina Gordeeva, Nancy Kerrigan, Scott Hamilton, Brian Orser, Yuka Sato, Elvis Stojiko and Kristi Yamaguchi grow and develop to the sound of his music.
After coming to the attention of IMG in New York, Karl was invited to play his compositions at professional figure skating shows such as Champions on Ice and Skate the Dream, always accompanied by his transparent Kawai piano. He also wrote music for ice dancers such as Isabelle & Paul Duchesnay, Isabelle Delobel & Olivier Schoenfelder and Marie-France Dubreuil & Patrice Lauzon. Members of the new generations of figure skaters who have called on Karl’s talent include Miki Ando, Patrick Chan, Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford, Gracie Gold, Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson, Yuzuru Hanyu, Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue, Yuna Kim, Les Suprêmes,, Marigold IceUnity, Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron, Adam Rippon, Joannie Rochette, Bradie Tennell, Shoma Uno, Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir, The Haydenettes, The Rockettes and Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje.
In 1999, Karl released a second album on the BMG label which spent a month at the top of the Billboard Talent Net charts, an online extension of the famous Billboard Magazine. This success gave him the opportunity to perform in such renowned venues as the Bellagio in Las Vegas, the Bell Centre in Montreal and the Halifax Metro Centre, to name just a few. That same year, the skies over Montreal were lit up to the sound of Karl Hugo’s music at the 15th Benson & Hedges International fireworks competition, a rare and colorful event that was subsequently repeated several times in Geneva, Switzerland.
In 2005, Karl became a musical composer and performer for world-famous Just for Laughs Gags and Just Kidding, its recent spinoff co-produced by Disney. To date he has created hundreds of pieces of music featuring various instruments from whistling, in The Strongest Girl in the World Prank (14 million views on YouTube), to scat singing, in the viral video Soft Ice Cream Scam (43 million views on YouTube).
His love of musicals led Karl to contribute his talents as an arranger, orchestrator, musical director and live musician to numerous official Canadian productions of works such as Fiddler on the Roof, La Cage aux Folles, My Fair Lady, Nine and The Sound of Music. Building on this experience, in 2008 he created and produced his own musical, Noémia, for which he wrote the book and the music.
Karl returned to his solo career in 2015. He founded the Karl Hugo Music record label, Musivarts Publishing, started directing and editing his own music videos, christened his recording studio Studio Chimay, created a complete website karlhugomusic.com and finally, launched Blue Sparkles, an instrumental album on which he performs 12 of his own compositions on the piano. With more than 17,000 fans on Facebook (French and English pages), Karl’s efforts were rewarded, and he began to think about a sequel: Red Sparkles.
Involved in the music used in the 2018 Winter Olympics, Karl chose this exciting time to launch his album Red Sparkles. In this new opus, just like in the previous one, he creates a very personal blend of romantic, modern classical (neo-classical) and popular music styles. He is accompanied by a classical orchestra, enhanced by the presence of an electric bass, drum kit and vocals on certain songs.
Winter 2020, Karl Hugo joined forces with The Voice of China sensation Junshu Zheng, Chinese ice dance champions Shiyue Wang & Xinyu Liu as well as the renowned Canadian choreographer Marie-France Dubreuil to create a grandiose music video. For the needs of this collaboration with the Chinese label HIFIVE Music, Karl added English lyrics to one of his instrumental compositions and thus created the song I Feel Lonely, later adapted into Mandarin (孤独的雪花). Not only is the result breathtaking, but it is also heartwarming to see that such a unifying project can still exist in today’s world in crisis.
In September 2020, Karl Hugo successfully launched an instrumental single titled Your Last Kiss. This vibrant piano cello duet is an extended version of the music Karl composed for the latest free program of Olympic figure skating medalist Shoma Uno. Feeling Mathieu Caron draw the single cover inspired by the iconic costume he designed for Uno. The entire program is based on the concept of choreographer David Wilson and Karl’s partner in figure skating music, music designer Hugo Chouinard.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Karl Hugo brought comfort to his fans by uploading a moving music video. He chose to rearrange his composition Romantika and re-record it with the participation of passionate musicians of a string orchestra. Renamed Romantika Amo for the occasion, Karl, as usual, directed and edited this video which has both a modern style and a romantic sensibility.
On International Kissing Day 2021, Karl Hugo launched the sequel of Your Last Kiss single, an ardent piano and cello duet titled Endless First Kiss. For the art cover of his new opus, Karl chose the sketch of The Next Ice Princess dress, designed and drawn by Josiane Lamond and highlighted by vivid watercolor, which illustrates the almost epic emotions love can sometimes produce.
Karl Hugo has lent his musical talents as a composer, arranger and musician to many figure skaters participating in the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. Among these athletes, who represent 14 countries are Madison Chock & Evan Bates (USA), Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson (GBR), Laurence Fournier Beaudry & Nikolaj Sørensen (CAN), Alexei Bychenko (ISR), Karen Chen (USA), Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker (USA), Leona Hendrickx (BEL), Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue (USA), Vanessa James & Eric Radford (CAN), Alexa Knierim & Brandon Frazier (USA), Keegan Messing (CAN), Riku Miura & Ryuichi Kihara (JPN), Kirsten Moore-Towers & Michael Marinaro (CAN), Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron (FRA), Wang Shiyue & Liu Xinyu (CHN), Olivia Smart & Adrián Díaz (ESP) as well as Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin (ROC).
At the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, 51 athletes benefited from the expertise of Karl Hugo and his partner in figure skating music, musical designer Hugo Chouinard.