Fort Wayne musician lands role of a lifetime in New Zealand

Fort Wayne musician Fernando Tarango is living his dream. He and his wife, Lanah, along with their 2 children, just left the Fort Wayne area for New Zealand, where they live part-time.


While both Tarango and Lanah have roots in Fort Wayne, they were drawn to New Zealand and its culture and have spent half of each year there for the past few years. Lanah has residency in New Zealand from her time working on public policy for the New Zealand Government.


When they had their first son, they thought it would be fun to get residency for the whole family. Now they have a second son, and on this trip back, they intend to finish the process.


The decision to live part-time in Fort Wayne and part-time in New Zealand is a bit unconventional, but it is providing the Tarango’s the best of both worlds. They get to stay connected to their family and enjoy a slower pace of life in New Zealand, along with all that its culture has to offer.


“New Zealand gives us a chance to slow down, breathe, and listen,” Tarango says. “I’ve met some wonderful musicians and artists, and I’ve heard some really cool sounds without the pressure of gigging out as often as I do in Fort Wayne.”

Tarango performs at many local venues, including the Brass Rail.


This laid-back way of life has allowed Tarango to think a little less about music and his career expectations, which inspired a newfound hunger for creative expression.


This hunger has led him to his next big opportunity: He will play Jean Valjean, the lead role, in the New Plymouth Operatic Society’s production of “Les Miserables,” which will open at the end of July and run for three weeks in New Plymouth, New Zealand.


“It’s a demanding role, vocally and artistically,” Tarango says. “I was making contacts with music directors in the Taranaki region of New Zealand when I received a message from Warren Bates, the director of the show. He asked me to consider sending some audition videos. I did, and here we are.”


Tarango is a classically trained tenor and has become what is known as a crossover artist, spanning the ranks of a professional actor, opera singer, rock band frontman, and music educator. He has appeared in television commercial campaigns for Old Spice, Anthem Blue Cross, and Southern Comfort, and his music has been heard on MTV, VH1, E! and the Oxygen Network.


A professional musician since age 10, he has toured the world, performed and recorded with Grammy Award-winning artists and ensembles, and sung on the Grammy Award Winning recording Bolcolm's Songs of Innocence.


Around northeast Indiana, he is known for more casual appearances at public events and festivals like Buskerfest or Lunch on the Plaza in downtown Fort Wayne.


But Tarango’s unique lifestyle and career are not the only remarkable things about his work. When not on stage, he spends his time empowering young artists in his work as a vocal coach, songwriting coach, and music producer through his classroom songwriting workshops, Sing Your Story.


“Motivation has to come from within,” Tarango says. “You create, draw, practice, and sing because you desire a mental state of happiness that comes from work. I hope I can instill this in the young people I teach.”


Tarango has developed and scripted young people's programming for the Fort Wayne Philharmonic and is a regular host and performer of the Carnegie Hall Link Up Series. He is currently in production for his educational web series, The Perpetual Music Machine, due to air in June, and performs as a bandleader in his original style of Americana Jazz fusion.


Born in El Paso, Texas, Tarango moved to Fort Wayne at the age of nine and lived here until he graduated from high school. He then spent time in Michigan, while attending the University of Michigan School of Music, and in California, where he sang professionally, before making his way back to Fort Wayne to be closer to family.


The timing was just right for him because, soon after returning to the area, he met, fell in love with, and married Lanah who had also just moved back to be closer to her family.


Since then, the couple has created an unconventional life for themselves that fits their needs and allows them to bring something special to both cultures.


“We stay connected to Fort Wayne because of our families, and now that we have a family of our own, that is especially important,” Tarango says. “We also see so much potential here, and we are excited to see it grow and want to be a part of it.”

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Read more articles by Amber Bouthot.

Friends and colleagues describe Amber as an effervescent, passionate, community-minded connector. A transplant from Illinois, she is a staunch advocate for our city and gives back by volunteering for a variety of organizations and causes. Currently, she is the Managing Director for the Fort Wayne Children’s Choir and owns her own freelance marketing and writing business, Red Bird Writing. She earned a Master of Business Administration from Indiana Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Northern Illinois University. She is also a freelance writer for whatzup Magazine, Visit Fort Wayne, Northeast Indiana Public Radio, and Input Fort Wayne. Her most important role, however, is mother to her daughter Annabelle and her two dogs: Max and Frankie.