Hidenori Nakajo (CFA'10) traveled halfway around the world to follow a dream — to become a sound designer on Broadway.
Nakajo's 'long journey' began eight years ago when he traveled from his home in Japan to study English in the United States. Already college-trained in production technology, he set his sights on Broadway after seeing his first New York City musical.
"Musical theatre is a luxurious, comprehensive art form," he said. "Professionals from every artistic field work together to create an imaginary world before a live audience, and Broadway is at the center."
After researching the finest graduate programs, Nakajo chose Carnegie Mellon University's School of Drama and the new MFA in sound design.
"I was attracted to the quality of production and unique curriculum of Carnegie Mellon's School of Drama," he explained. "The flexible curriculum was comprised of a mix of classes campus-wide, such as Building Acoustics, Sound Editing and Mastering, and Physics of Musical Sound. I had a great interdisciplinary experience through my communication with excellent professors in different but related fields."
The first graduate of the program, Nakajo enjoyed the chance to work closely with his advisor and assistant professor of sound design, Joe Pino.
"We frequently discussed how I should choose classes efficiently to build my program and expand my knowledge through the opportunities the school offers," said Nakajo. "With his leading role in the academic sound community and professional excellence as a designer, Joe's advice was always precise and to the point. He helped me establish the best educational experience here, while considering my career goal as a musical sound designer."
Nakajo graduated this past May with two School of Drama awards — the Norman Apell Award and the West Coast Drama Alumni Clan Award — and recently made his long awaited move to the Big Apple. He's already had the chance to build his network and experience, and most exciting, just began an internship on a new Broadway musical.
"I'm especially thankful to one alumna, Bridget O'Connor, an active sound designer in NYC," he noted. "She welcomed me and literally advised me in the practice of NYC theater sound. She actively introduced me to sound professionals and rental shops, both through and after our showcase event in NYC. Without her help, I could never have been so lucky to get these exciting job opportunities so quickly."
He added, "To pursue this dream outside of my birth country would have been much, much harder without all the generous support and help from the School of Drama and Carnegie Mellon community."