Chris Thompson

A career in music education and composition that spans forty years, Chris Thompson (b.1957) got his start via the pageantry arts as a freshman at West Chester State University in West Chester, Pennsylvania. There he performed with the Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps until the age of 21. Chris continued on as a percussion writer for the Crossmen from 1979 through 1982, co-authoring the classic solo Shoshanna based on Cal Tjader’s seminal work with two other percussion greats – Thom Hannum and the late Fred Sanford.

Chris went on to lead the percussion section at the Madison Scouts from Madison, WI. During his tenure there, Madison produced several iconic percussion ensembles; notable among them in 1985, 1988, and 1992. His most celebrated work includes 1988’s performances of Concerto for Jazz Orchestra (Paul Hart) and Malagueña (Ernesto Lecuona), along with 1992’s performance of the percussion feature at the end of “Funny” from City of Angels (Cy Coleman).

The Madison Scouts were crowned Drum Corps International World Champions in 1988. The 1988 show’s finale, Malagueña, is generally regarded as one of the finest moments in Drum Corps international history. Its combination of fiery mode, melodic drive, stylistic diversity, inventive percussion, and pure pageantry excitement stands as one the of the great achievements in the pageantry arts. Chris was inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame in 2011.

Beyond his work for Drum Corps International, Chris has produced wind and percussion scores for organizations across the globe including Beatrix located in Hilversum, Netherlands; Canto Gakuin University located in Yokohama, Japan; the Sunrisers located in Great Britain, the Rochester Crusaders located in Rochester, New York; the Skyliners located in Walnutport, Pennsylvania; the Reading Buccaneers located in Reading, Pennsylvania; and Michigan State University located in East Lansing, Michigan.

In celebration of their daughter’s early years, Chris wrote his first piece of wind ensemble literature – Madaline’s First Adventure in 2002. Gifted to the Rutgers University Wind Ensemble and Dr. William Berz, the piece was premiered in 2003.

Chris has been a Yamaha Performing Artist since 1985 and continues to provide workshops and educational opportunities for aspiring ensembles. His graduate work is from The Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University where he studied with Keith Copeland, Kenny Barron, Noel DaCosta, Mark Kirk, and Dr. William Berz.

For more information about the music of Chris Thompson, visit


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