Luther senior creates a collaborative adaptation of Musical

October 24, 2018

John Kuntz believes that there is an importance in telling stories and sharing experiences. In his research, he has been able to reinvent the story of “The Little Match Seller” from H. C. Anderson’s short story, to his own, with the collaboration of some fellow students. He spent his summer at Luther College creating the musical “Matchgirl.”

Kuntz is the son of Thomas and Laura Kuntz of Eagan, Minnesota. He is a 2015 graduate of Cretin-Derham Hall. Currently, he a music major at Luther College.

Kuntz has worked alongside two fellow Luther students to create an adaptation of the Hans Christian Anderson short story “The Little Match Seller” as a musical.

An important part of Kuntz’s research was its collaborative nature. He believes that his project and future projects of a similar nature will bring the music and theater departments closer. The musical that he was able to work on has paved the way for more collaboration between the two in the coming future.

When turning a short story into a full musical, there are several challenges to face. According to Kuntz, the most challenging part of his research was trying to write original music while continuing to use compositional techniques and tools from previous musicals. “It is rather easy to write a melody or musical texture and believe it original,” he stated, “but later realize it is a mirror image of a previously written song.” He found the most fascinating part of his work to be the process of translating character moods, motivations and behaviors into a musical platform, especially when doing the project collaboratively. “I must always be on the same page as my colleagues, otherwise the music will not accurately reflect the character of the scene,” he said.

Kuntz’s response to being asked how his research has impacted his learning experience at Luther College was, “This project has allowed me two months of intensive study in one particular field. I now have a taste of what it may be like to work as a composer and have learned much about the craft.” He also stated that the experience allowed him the chance explore a new and very specific path.

Kuntz’s collaboration is one of 30 summer student-faculty research projects funded through Luther’s College Scholars Program and Dean’s Office. The Student-Faculty Summer Research projects provide students an opportunity to research topics of interest alongside Luther faculty. This program is one of a wide selection of experiential learning opportunities that are part of Luther’s academic core and intend to deepen the learning process.

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,005, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree in more than 60 majors and pre-professional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college’s website: