Claude Thompson. Choir conductor, teacher, composer, b Trois-Rivières, Que, 14 Jan 1927; BA (Laval) 1947, B MUS composition (Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, Rome) 1956, B MUS organ (Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, Rome) 1962, MCG 1968, D MUS sacred (Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music) 1970. He first studied music with his father, Joseph-Antonio. He was ordained as a priest in 1951, then taught theology and sacred music at the Grand séminaire de Trois-Rivières. He was in Europe 1953-6 where he studied organ with Ferrucio Vignanelli, and Gregorian chant and composition at the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music in Rome. He also worked under the direction of Nadia Boulanger at the American Conservatory of Fontainebleau (summers 1955, 1956).
Upon his return to Quebec, Thompson resumed his duties at the Grand séminaire de Trois-Rivières 1956-61 and taught 1962-6 at the Petit séminaire St- Joseph where he had become choirmaster in 1957. In 1956, he became the director of the Petits chanteurs trifluviens (Petits chanteurs de Trois-Rivières) with whom he made recordings. A second stay in Rome 1961-2 allowed him to pursue organ studies and to complete the course requirements for his doctoral studies. In 1966, he founded the École des Petits chanteurs which he continued to direct in 1990. Having taught music history 1973-9 at the Conservatoire de Trois-Rivières and 1973-86 at the UQTR, he began teaching at the Cégep de Drummondville in 1988. He became choirmaster at the Trois-Rivières Cathedral in 1963 and founding president of the Fédération québécoise des Pueri Cantores in 1983.
Thompson has composed some 50 choral works (masses and motets) and two important works for choir and orchestra: Cantate pour un anniversaire - Psaume 23 for the centennial of the St-Joseph Seminary (1960) and the cantata D'âge en âge ô Seigneur tu as été notre refuge for the 350th anniversary of the city of Trois-Rivières (1984). He has also harmonized several folksongs from Quebec and elsewhere. In 1986, the organist Suzanne Bellemare premiered on the CBC his Scherzo en mode éolien, which is dedicated to her.
Thompson received the gold medal from the sovereign pontiff in 1970 and was made an honorary citizen of the city of Carcassonne, France, in 1987. He won the Arlequin trophy for his conducting in 1981, the Ordre de la Vérendrye for the flourishing Petits chanteurs choir school in 1988, and the Benjamin Sulte Prize for his artistic influence in 1990, all awarded by the city of Trois-Rivières.
His brother Marcel (b Trois-Rivières, Que, 1923), organist and educator, studied with his father (piano) and with Dom Georges Mercure (Gregorian chant), Henri Gagnon (organ), Alphonse Tardif and Jeanne Landry (theory); under the influence of Marcelle Corneille, he turned to musical pedagogy. He was organist 1945-68 at the Trois-Rivières Cathedral and taught school music 1963-77 at the seminary where he introduced optional music courses in 1964 and subsequently a music department and a concert band. He also taught 1968-78 at UQTR, which published his Initiation à la musique pour ensembles de flute à bec et petites percussions in 1969. Éditions Naie-Julie later published his Études pour classes de solfège avec accompagnement de piano (2 vols, accompaniments by Lorraine Casaubon).