Derek Zhao currently splits his time between Beijing and Houston as a freelance composer for films and commercials, including brands such as Audi, Jaguar, Volkswagen, Sony, and Lenovo.
He was classically trained in violin performance and studied composition and music recording at the University of Southern California. After graduating, he interned for TV composer Bear McCreary, of Battlestar Galactica and The Walking Dead fame, and then had the great privilege of serving as Randy Newman's technical assistant on The Princess and the Frog and Toy Story 3.
Looking to expand his worldview beyond the insularity of Hollywood, Derek moved to Beijing where he worked for the Beijing Dance Drama and Opera, composing traditional Chinese music for stage and dance productions, and then China Central Television, where he wrote soundtracks for a variety of documentary programs. It was around this time when he also began scoring Chinese feature films, which has kept him busy ever since.