Clifford D. Thomson

Clifford D. Thomson

A memorial and celebration of life for former Loudoun Valley High School drama teacher and choir director Clifford D. Thomson will be held at 2 p.m. at the Waterford Old School on Saturday, June 18.

Thomson was born June 22, 1950, in Washington, DC. He died May 6 in Naples, FL.

“Cliff” Thomson was the only child of Capt. Robert Lee and Marjorie Forgey Thomson. He grew up in British Guiana and in Arlington. His years in British Guiana inspired a love of the Spanish language, which he spoke fluently. He also spoke Italian and Latin, and sang works in German, French, Hebrew and Russian among other languages.

A graduate of American University, Thomson also studied under Jannette Wells, PhD, at Catholic University of America. He taught at Loudoun Valley High School from 1974 until his retirement in 2009. He also taught at Harmony Intermediate School.

During his career as an educator, Thomson taught thousands of students in a diverse array of subjects, including choir, drama, music theory and art and architecture. He influenced his students’ lives so profoundly that many of them maintained ties with him long after graduation.

An accomplished singer, keyboard player and composer, he wrote or arranged numerous pieces to be sung by his students. In collaboration with longtime friend Marie Anderson, whose children studied under Thomson, he wrote an opera for students, “In Nomine,” that was performed at Valley in the late 1980s. Famous for his music, his dramatic productions were equally good. Those who saw his production of the play “Everyman” said it was the best they had ever seen.

Possessed of a fine tenor and baritone voice, simultaneously with his teaching schedule Thomson sang with the Washington Opera Chorus for 30 years. He also sang at St. John’s Episcopal Church on Lafayette Square, in Washington, DC.

A man with a wicked sense of humor, Thomson delighted in puns and word play of all kinds. One summer spent on a graduate course featuring the plays of William Shakespeare, Thomson sometimes spoke for hours at a time in rhyming couplets—just for fun.

His voice skills were matched by talent in the kitchen, where he would prepare both an elegant dinner party feast and teach an inexperienced friend the cooking basics.

Despite his many accomplishments, Thomson remained very modest. Friends remember the many occasions on which he tried to dodge applause.

Thomson lived with his partner John Goding for more than 30 years, until the latter’s death in 2009. Goding was one of the founding members of The Washington Ballet. During his career, he was a principal dancer, choreographer and ballet master.

Together, they served as an inspiration for many people, sharing their passion for the arts and their deep appreciation for learning, love and life.

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