Eric Kutz

Associate professor of music

First year teaching at Luther: 2002

Year his cello was made: 1877 (by Raffaele Fiorini).

Summer gig: Performs 30 concerts in 10 weeks with the Grant Park Symphony in Chicago (two of the ensembles recordings were nominated for Grammy Awards in 2006).

A North Dakota native, Eric Kutz knows what it's like to make big choices about college and vocation. His study of music and cello performance took him to Oberlin College in Ohio, then Rice University in Texas, and finally to the Juilliard School in New York, where he earned his D.M.A.

When he was 19 and looking to buy a professional-grade cello, Eric knew after only half an hour of test-playing that he was willing to invest in his current cello--which, like any outstanding string instrument, cost about as much as a luxury sports car.

"It's probably the last cello I'll ever own," he explains with a sort of reverence. "You want an instrument that you feel you still haven't found its every sound--this one still challenges me."

At Luther, Eric helps a growing number of cello students find the same passion for music and performance through the many lessons he teaches. He also leads the cello portion of string methods class and some theory courses, and plays with other recitalists on campus.

On the professional stage, Eric plays five to 12 concerts a year in tandem with his wife, acclaimed pianist and fellow Luther instructor Miko Kominami. Known as the Murasaki Duo, they have played on both coasts, and in Canada, Norway, and Denmark. In 2007, they toured Iowa to perform works by Iowa composers, sponsored by the Iowa Composers Forum.

Transcribing performance into practice, Eric emphasizes the notion of learning music as a dynamic craft. "I don't care what a student's major is--I just enjoy working with people who are dedicated and are willing to learn to read texts critically," he explains. "Once you learn the skill, you can continue to discover new music."

"The emotional depth of a person is revealed in his or her playing, and I'm proud to say that our graduates learn how to think--to translate form and structure into specific expression--not just in my studio but in their work all over campus."