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Junior engineer makes mark as violinist

By : Nicole Borawski

Junior Akira Maezawa, an electrical engineering major and talented musician, plays violin recently in a rehearsal room at the Fine Arts Building.
Akira Maezawa is making a lasting impression at Binghamton as a standout student in more than one area of study. The junior from Scarsdale is an electrical engineering major and talented violinist.

Douglas Summerville, associate professor and computer engineering undergraduate program director, has had Akira as a student for two classes.

“He can process new information faster than any student I’ve known,” Summerville said. “In class, he immediately understands complex ideas and quickly synthesizes them into coherent thoughts.”

A typical day for Maezawa includes engineering classes in the morning, rehearsals in the afternoon and making time to attend concerts. He practices violin every day and enjoys studying about electric acoustics in his free time.

Professor Timothy Perry, director of the University orchestra, believes Maezawa is one of the finest undergraduate violinists he has seen in 21 years conducting at the University.

“Akira represents the kind of student we get here at Binghamton,” Perry said. “He is outstanding and possesses an extraordinary competence that allows him to excel in more than one field.”

Maezawa began playing the violin 14 years ago and decided to join the University orchestra when he saw a poster as a freshman. Today, he is concertmaster of the orchestra, a member of five chamber music groups and a quartet and collaborates with piano students.

Last summer, Maezawa played violin at a camp in Boston, where he had the chance to learn from great musicians and coaches.

One of his role models is Miller Puckette, a professor at University of California, San Diego, who created signal-processing software and plays the violin.

Maezawa, 20, ties in engineering with his passion for music and hopes to go to graduate school to study acoustic engineering.

“When I first look at music, I break it up into smaller pieces, just like with engineering, because you are faced with one big problem that needs to broken up and solved one by one,” Maezawa said. “By the end, you have the culmination of one finished product, which is what music is about.”

Maezawa notes the difference between music and engineering is he is able to put different emotions into a musical piece, which is impossible in engineering.

As a musician, Maezawa enjoys performing for the general public and professors who are willing to critique him. He appeared as a soloist with the University Symphony Orchestra in spring 2006.

“He possesses a great curiosity and joy for music, and his open mind and creativity make him a great musician,” Perry said.

In 2005, Maezawa won the University’s Concerto and Aria competition, in which Perry described his performance as “magnificent.” He was also the winner of the Bartok Second Violin Concerto, the Professor Janet Brady Memorial Scholarship for sophomore engineers and the Floyd H. Lawson Engineering Endowment Fund.

“You need to do what you enjoy even if it gets brutal sometimes,” Maezawa said, “Don’t quit, because in the end it will be rewarding.”

Maezawa hopes to become a researcher in commercial audio.

“My goal is to develop a technology that plays an electric acoustic piece on the violin that incorporates audio processing technology,” he said.

Maezawa is now busy filling out internship applications.

The next step in his engineering and musical career is to attain an internship in the electronics and audio industry this summer.

“When I think back to the best students I’ve known over the years, each has had a quick mind and a thirst for knowledge,” Summerville said. “However, I can’t recall a student who has demonstrated both as intensely as Akira.”
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Last Updated: 10/14/08