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Tribute to Marilyn N. Thomson, ARCT

Marilyn Thompson

The Royal Conservatory mourns the loss of a truly great friend, Marilyn Thomson, an RCM alumna, active board member and dedicated patron, who passed away on May 23, 2017 in Toronto.

"Marilyn Thomson was an extraordinary ambassador for the importance of the work of the RCM in developing the creativity of young people nationwide," said Dr. Peter Simon, Michael and Sonja Koerner President & CEO of The Royal Conservatory. "She was a warm and lovely person who was passionate about the power of music to further human development. She genuinely enjoyed meeting people and sharing her enthusiasm for music with them. We had the highest regard for Marilyn and felt that she captured the essence of The Royal Conservatory."

Like many Canadians, Marilyn Thomson began studying music as a child and pursued her studies with The Conservatory, where she achieved the RCM’s ARCT diploma in piano and theory.

"Marilyn Thomson felt that music was for everybody, not just for musicians; and that it should be part of everybody’s life. She really believed in the transformative benefits of music and music-making," said Dr. Simon.

Marilyn Thomson served on The Royal Conservatory’s Board of Directors from 2003-2011, a responsibility she embraced with enthusiasm and dedication. During her tenure, she also chaired the Alumni Relations Committee for five years.  

One of Canada’s leading patrons of the arts, in 2004 Mrs. Thomson made a gift to the RCM’s Building National Dreams Capital Campaign to name the Evelyn & Bert Lavis Promenade in the TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning in memory of her parents.   

When Mrs. Thomson decided to retire from the Board, the RCM conferred upon her the title of Honorary Board Member in recognition of her unique and ongoing involvement with the organization; she is the only individual in the RCM’s history to ever hold this title.  

"Despite stepping down from the board, Marilyn still very much wanted to stay involved with the RCM and we agreed that she still had an important role to play. When she engaged with people, they quickly understood who we were and what we do," explained Dr. Simon, adding that one of her favourite projects as Honorary Board Member included hosting music events at the RCM for children. "She had a great love of children and she was always extraordinarily kind and gracious. People really enjoyed meeting her and participating in these events." 

In October 2013, David, Taylor, and Peter Thomson made a generous donation to name The Marilyn Thomson Early Childhood Education Centre, in honour of their mother’s lifelong commitment to music-making and music education.

Working with The Royal Conservatory’s own neuroscience lab, The Marilyn Thomson Centre develops and delivers innovative early childhood education programs, teacher training, and digital early childhood education products for use in the home and classroom by parents and their children and teachers. Music has been shown to be the ultimate means by which cognitive development can be enhanced.

"Marilyn Thomson truly believed that music should be a part of everyone’s life from the very beginning,” said Dr. Simon. “We are proud to honour her legacy for generations to come through the work at The Marilyn Thomson Early Childhood Education Centre. We will miss her deeply."

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