Getting to the Art of the Matter: Part 5

By: Peter Van Houten

Want to sell your car? Take a piano class. Interested in law school? Perhaps you should audition for “Guys and Dolls.” A fine arts degree can teach you so many useful skills.

We talked to eight successful former Casper College students who are now working in their respective fields. In discussing their careers, they offer numerous ways that music, dance, painting, and acting apply to other professions such as law, finance, sales, and politics.

If you haven’t yet, make sure you read part 1part 2part 3, and part 4 of this series.

Darren Lougee (AA, ’85)


Not many residents of Douglas, Wyoming, get to sing opera at the world-renowned Carnegie Hall in New York City. But Casper College graduate Darren Lougee has already performed there twice as a soloist and numerous times in the chorus.

Lougee came to Casper College in the fall of 1983 and was amazed at the myriad of opportunities in front of him. He studied piano, voice, trombone, and theater, while performing with five ensembles and in several
theater productions.

“I worked with many fine instructors at the college, but I was doing too much,” Lougee said. “It wasn’t until the spring semester that I wised up and decide to focus only on piano and voice.”

That led to an interest in opera while working on his bachelor’s degree, and eventually 18 months as an apprentice in the Zurich Opera House in Switzerland. He later worked with the Tel Aviv Orchestra in Israel and two years of touring with the National Opera Company. Ultimately, he settled in New York City and pondered leaving music when he received full-time job offers with investment companies like Goldman Sachs and the Blackstone Group.

“Any degree in the arts will help you because it teaches you that as an artist you cannot phone it in,” Lougee said. “Goldman Sachs appreciated that in my work I knew how to be serious and passionate. Yet I couldn’t leave music because it is who I am. I’ve been singing since I was 7.”

Today, Lougee teaches music and acting at Oxford High School in Connecticut, sharing what he has learned through countless musical auditions across Manhattan, New York. He also remains tied to the arts, having founded a theatre company in the community, while penning his first play, “Hostias,” Latin for offering. Naturally, the play includes music, telling the tale of an interim church choir director who must balance the emotions of caring for his mother who has Alzheimer’s disease, with the complications of two private lesson students who fall in love with him.

The play already has had one full workshop reading, and while it needs some edits, Lougee believes the play has great promise.

“It was surreal the first time that I stood on that small stage amid the 2,800 people in the large auditorium,” he said.

As he waited to perform, he thought about all of the greats that had taken the 120-year-old Carnegie Hall stage including George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein, Benny Goodman, The Beatles, Gustav Mahler, and Maria Callas.

“I thought about coming from Douglas and Casper College and how far that I had traveled,” he said.

And then he sang.

This story originally appeared in the Winter 2017 issue of Footprints.

Learn more about the Casper College Music Department and the musicmusic education, and music performance programs.

Media contact: Lisa S. Icenogle

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