Monseigneur claude Thompson
“Dear Petits Chanteurs, do not settle for being just instruments retransmitting the notes of a liturgical score! You cannot sincerely sing the love of Christ without experiencing it deeply within your heart, without translating His love into action –into the helpful service of others. You cannot sing the peace of Christ if you are not at peace with yourself or those around you.”
Translated from Homélie pour le 9e congrès des Pueri Cantores
Claude Thompson was born in Trois-Rivières on January 14th, 1927 and died on February 20th, 2012. He was ordained in 1951. His father, J.-Antonio Thompson, who was a doctor of music, a composer, a chapel master, an organist and a pedagogue, was his first teacher. He completed his theology and musical studies during two stays in Rome where he obtained a license in theology from the Angelicum and diplomas from the Pontificio Istituto di Musica Sacra in Gregorian chant, in musicology, in composition and in organ.
In 1970, he received a doctorate summa cum laude in sacred music from this institute. During the summers of 1955 and 1956, he was a student, at Fontainebleau, of the great French musician Nadia Boulanger.
For Claude Thompson, education was a true calling and he especially invested in the Petits Chanteurs de Trois-Rivières. Upon his first return from Rome in 1956, he was invited to direct a choir of children: Les Petits Chanteurs Trifluviens. In 1966, in collaboration with the Commission scolaire de Trois-Rivières, he founded the École des Petits Chanteurs de Trois-Rivières. To this day, child members of the choir receive, from a single institution, both a general primary education (2nd cycle) and musical training that compares to that of the great European schools.
While pursuing his work with young people as an educator/musician, Claude Thompson also taught music history courses at the Conservatoire de musique de Trois-Rivières and at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières.
Claude Thompson composed some fifty different choral works (masses, motets, etc.) and numerous works for chorus and orchestra: Cantate pour le 100e anniversaire du Séminaire St-Joseph à Trois-Rivières (1960), Cantate pour le 350e anniversaire de la ville de Trois-Rivières (1984), a Magnificat on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the Petits Chanteurs (1992), Cantate pour une Université on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Université de Québec à Trois-Rivières (1994), a Mass of Thanksgiving to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Ursulines in Trois-Rivières (1997) and a sound and light show for the Great Jubilee of the year 2000. Claude Thompson has also composed harmonies for a large number of folk songs from Quebec and around the world.
As director of the Petits Chanteurs de Trois-Rivières, Claude Thompson led his maîtrise on tours of Europe, the United States and several Canadian provinces. He directed the Petits Chanteurs de Trois-Rivières during several radio and television recordings and the superior performance of his choristers earned him glowing reviews from numerous connoisseurs. He also produced more than twenty musical discs and cassettes.
In 1983, he became the founding president of the Fédération des Pueri Cantores du Québec, an affiliate of the international federation. He was also the designated chaplain of the international federation.
Claude Thompson received many awards from both civil and religious organizations, who recognized the quality of his artistic direction of the Petits Chanteurs de Trois-Rivières. In 1992, the French government awarded him the rank of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres and, in 1995, he was awarded the Ordre du Québec by the Quebec government. Ecclesiastical authorities have also recognized his merits by appointing him prelate (Monsignor).