Derek McCormick is a violin maker based in Belfast Northern Ireland. His handmade violins have a high reputation amongst both traditional and classical violinists.
Derek McCormick has now been making violins for over twenty years. Initially this remained a hobby but as his interest developed he retired early from his position as a senior lecturer in Queens University Belfast where he was leading a research team investigating the biochemistry and molecular biology of brain tumours. Violin making is a relatively solitary process and skills are built up gradually, but he was helped enormously by attending a number of courses where he benefited from the advice and encouragement fromsome internationally known makers such as Juliet Barker, Wilf Saunders, Rowan Armour-Brown and Patrick Jowett.
The process of making high-quality violins has remained virtually unchanged since the birth of the “modern” violin in Northern Italy in the 16th century. The principal tools used are still knives, gouges, chisels, planes and scrapers. Stradivari, Amati or Guarneri would be pretty much at home in a 21st century workshop (although maybe a bit puzzled by the ipod). In addition to making instruments, he was fortunate to have had the opportunity to assist John Topham in his pioneering dendrochronological research on violins which has led to a number of publications in academic journals and Strad magazine (see “Research” page). In addition to demonstrating the value of dendrochronology in dating and helping to authenticate instruments, this research has allowed us to gain some insight into the working practices of great makers such as Guarneri del Gesu and Stradivari. As a result of this research he has had the opportunity to examine at close quarters some of the world’s great instruments, including the legendary “Messiah” violin of Antonio Stradivari and the “Charles IX” violin of Andrea Amati.