Max Derrickson
Combining Performance and Research into Writing Program Notes

Performing at wedding near the Iwo Jima Memorial in Washington, DCPerformance:
I’ve been playing percussion and, mainly, timpani for orchestras and other ensembles, for over 30 years.  My undergraduate degree came from James Madison University, in Virginia, focusing on Music Education.  I received a Masters in Music Performance in Percussion at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, MD — one of the first two students to be accepted into its Percussion Graduate program.  I’ve freelanced for many years.  In 1988-89 I was the Principal Timpanist with the Midland-Odessa Orchestra (TX).  In 1987 I was the Timpanist with the Peabody Symphony Orchestra for a historic tour of the Soviet Union.  I’ve played with the Annapolis Symphony (MD), Harrisburg Symphony (PA), Baltimore Chamber Orchestra (MD), Aspen Music Festival Orchestras (CO), and the Hopkins Symphony Orchestra (MD) for 25 years, among many others.

In 1993 I began studying Ethnomusicology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, focusing on Balinese gamelon.  During my second year of study I began working with Mickey Hart (formerly the drummer for the Grateful Dead) researching and producing 4 CD’s for his Endangered Music Project.  Together with ethnomusicologist Ken Bilby, I spent several years on that great project at the American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.  The CD’s we made were remasters of old field recordings made around the world by collectors, ethnomusicologists and anthropologists during the early days of recording technology.  You can currently find these recordings in the Smithsonian Folkways Catalog under The Mickey Hart Collection.  Two friends and I then launched our own music research business, ZDG Music Research, LLP, mostly researching period music for films.  ZDG helped fiddler Marc O’Connor and singer James Taylor research the origins of one of their marquee songs, “Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier,” for the soundtrack of the 1997 TV miniseries Liberty! The American Revolution.  For the past 20 years, until my retirement in 2019, I worked as an Examiner at the United States Copyright Office in the Library of Congress.

Max Tux B&WWriting:
I started writing about music over 25 years ago.  The first foray came in the early 90’s with the magazine High Performance Review, writing reviews of new Classical music CDs and concerts.  From there I began writing program notes for the Hopkins Symphony Orchestra of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, a fantastic orchestra that I’ve played with for over 25 years.   This also led to giving pre-concert lectures there.  Along the way, other orchestras invited me to write notes for their seasons’ concerts, including the New York Youth Symphony (NYC), the Dayton Philharmonic (OH), Long Beach Symphony Orchestra (CA), the South Bend Youth Symphony (IN), the Baltimore Opera (MD), the Prince George’s Philharmonic (MD), the Bay-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra and the Cape May Music Festival (NJ).  My notes have also appeared at the Tanglewood Music Festival, the Israeli Philharmonic, the Stanford Symphony Orchestra, the Avanti Orchestra (Washington, DC), the Tokyo Philharmonic, the PARMA Music Festival (NYC), among other groups in the United States, and for various recitals and small orchestras in the United Kingdom.  Also, recently I’ve written for a long-loved online magazine, ArtsEditor.com, based in Boston, MA.  Here’s a link to my latest article (a recital review) published there, “Enduring Greatness: experiencing a summer program of organ recitals online“:

In 2020, I was deeply honored to have been asked to write the liner notes for a CD, Hammerklavier, by Beth Levin, a impressive international pianist, performing Beethoven and Handel (that I wrote about) and Anders Eliasson.  You can find this CD here at this link (and you won’t be disappointed by Levin’s exquisite performances):