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George Steve Vassos

Obituary for George Steve Vassos

January 20, 1927 - February 12, 2020
Cleveland, Ohio | Age 93

Loving Partner, Beloved Brother, Cherished Uncle


George Steve Vassos, age 93, of Hunting Valley, passed away Wednesday, February 12, 2020. Partner of the late Henry Houston Hawley III for 56 years. Beloved brother of the late Effie Oulas. Cherished uncle of Sofia Henry (the late Mike) and Niki Harbeitner. Loving uncle of Michael Henry, Effie Henry Niko Harbeitner and Zoe Harbeitner. Son of the late Steve and Sofia Vassos who emigrated from the Greek island formerly known as Coutalis.

George was born in Huntington, Indiana on January 20, 1927. He moved to Cleveland with his parents and sister in 1940, where he studied piano and sang in voice contests at the Cleveland Public Schools and in the Choral Club at Glenville High School. George then went on to serve in the U.S. Army, singing with the American Male Chorus while traveling through the Orient and Army and Navy hospitals. He also served as accompanist and assistant conductor.

Following his time in the service, George attended Westminster Choir College where he earned his bachelor's and master's degrees. During those summers, George performed in "The Lost Colony" on Roanoke Island, NC with Andy Griffith. While there, George formed a quartet named "The Foursome" that sang in weekend night club shows with Andy as the Masters of Ceremonies. The quartet went on to New York City where they landed regular gigs at the Blue Angel, performed a six month stint at The Ted Mack Matinee, and made 14 films with Patti Page. During this time, George also sang with the New York Philharmonic, The Cleveland Orchestra and The Boston Pops.

In 1956, George moved back to Cleveland and was awarded a teaching position at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He served on the voice faculty for 50 years training singers who have gone on to succeed as teachers, administrators and performers with top orchestra and opera companies around the world. George later served as Chairman of the Voice Department. He was a founding board member of Lyric Opera Cleveland and also served on the National Advisory Board of Santa Fe Opera as well as on the faculty at Hiram College.

He is probably best known as the founder artistic director of the Art Song Festival, a biennial music festival he started in 1985. Art Song is vocal music that combines poetry and melody. If not for George Vassos, there would be less singing in the world, especially in Cleveland.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Art Song Festival Cleveland Institute of Music, 11021 East Blvd, Cleveland, OH 44106. Funeral Liturgy will be at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church Friday, February, 21 at 4:00pm. A reception will follow at Westwood Country Club. Graveside service with military honors will be held at Lake View Cemetery Saturday, February 22 at 11:30am. Please meet at Euclid Avenue Gate. Friends may call at the BUSCH FUNERAL HOME, 21369 Center Ridge Road, Fairview Park, OH 44116 from 4-8pm Thursday, February 20, 2020. 440-333-9774

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Suggested Memorial Donations

  • Art Song Festival of Cleveland Institute of Music
    11021 East Blvd
    Cleveland , OH 44106

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Busch Funeral and Crematory Services

7501 Ridge Road
Parma, OH 44129
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