Chris Thompson

Chris Thompson's Biography

A career in education that spans forty years, Chris got his start in drum and bugle corps as a freshman at West Chester State University in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Thom Hannum, Chris’s roommate at West Chester, invited him to a Crossmen, a corps at the time based in Philadelphia, rehearsal one Friday night in October of 1975 and the rest is history. Chris went on to perform with the legendary Crossmen drum line that, in 1978, graduated DCI Hall of Fame legends George Hopkins and Thom Hannum, as well as World Drum Corps Hall of Fame inductees Dale Adair and Robbie Robinson. Chris was inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall Of Fame in 2011.

Chris and Thom continued on as percussion co-caption heads for the Crossmen from 1979 through 1982, authoring the classic solo Shoshanna based on Cal Tjader’s seminal work. There, they collaborated with World Drum Corps Hall Of Fame legends Jerry Kelsey, Ralph Pace, and Tony Smith.

Chris left the Crossmen after the 1983 season to lead the percussion caption at the Madison Scouts from Madison, WI. During his tenure there, Madison produced three iconic percussion sections in 1985, 1988, and 1992. His most celebrated work includes 1988’s performances of Concerto for Jazz Orchestra and MalagueƱa, along with 1992’s performance of the solo at the end of “Funny” from City of Angels.

Under Chris’s direction, The Madison Scouts were crowned Drum Corps International World Champions in 1988. The 1988 show’s finale, MalagueƱa, is generally regarded as one of the finest moments in Drum Corps history. Its combination of mode, melody, percussive genius, raw energy, and pure pageantry excitement has rarely been duplicated.

Outside of his work in Drum Corps International, Chris has written hundreds of shows for dozens of other organizations 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.

Chris is one the pioneers of the modern front ensemble in both the outdoor and indoor arenas. His work at Michigan State University in 1991 and 1992 provided a foundation for the development of Winter Guard International as a venue for percussion excellence.

Chris has been a Yamaha Performing Artist since 1985 and continues to provide clinics and educational opportunities for aspiring percussionists and percussion ensembles. He has a Masters in Jazz Drums from Rutgers University, where he studied with Keith Copeland, Kenny Barron, and Mark Kirk. Chris resides in Howell, MI with his wife Laura, daughter Mattie, and son Sean. He can be booked as a clinician, ensemble coach, or as a speaker on human performance and education.

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Chris Thompson