Vinson Cole


“I learned that having a beautiful voice wasn’t enough
so I worked very hard to cultivate all aspects of my career.”
—Vinson Cole

Vinson Cole is a world famous tenor who has performed all over the globe. He began his singing career for churches and civic organizations around Kansas City but rose to fame in operatic performances that made the musical world buzz.

Location of Kansas City in MissouriTHE EARLY YEARS

Vinson Cole was born in 1950 and spent his entire childhood and early twenties in the Kansas City area. He was born to a musical family, with a mother who was a child performer on the radio in the 1930s and a grandmother who led the children’s choir at the church his family attended. Since his grandmother was the musical leader of the choir, Vinson took an early interest in singing. His talent was noticed by another member of the church who took him to sing for her voice teacher, who happened to be the head of the voice department of the Kansas City Conservatory. The young boy had a great deal of talent, thus he started taking voice lessons and was encouraged to develop his vocal talents. As a boy soprano, he made his operatic debut in Menotti’s Amahl and The Night Visitors at a local high school.

Cole graduated from Southeast High School and enrolled at the University of Missouri–Kansas City as a voice performance major. He knew he wanted to be an operatic singer, so he pursued it with great fervor throughout his college years. After graduating from UMKC, Cole realized that he needed further training, so he moved to Philadelphia to study at the Philadelphia Musical Academy with the famous Metropolitan Opera star Licia Albanese. After one year at PMA, he went to the famed Curtis Institute of Music to study with Margaret Harshaw, one of the most respected voice teachers of our time.


Vinson was performing on the stage before he was a teenager and made a name for himself in opera companies in Kansas City and Philadelphia. He worked as an apprentice with the Santa Fe Opera Company while at the Curtis Institute, where he performed major roles including the lead as the tenor soloist in the Verdi Requiem.

Success in Santa Fe led to his official operatic debut with the San Francisco Opera Company in Mascagni’s L’Amico Fritz. This show was a critical success, and Vinson Cole became one of the operatic world’s rising young stars.


Cole was getting professional recognition outside the United States in his late twenties and thirties. He was poised for greatness, and his dream of performing in Europe came true when he auditioned for the world’s most famous conductor Herbert von Karajan. Von Karajan immediately signed him up to record and sing the Italian Tenor in Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier at the Salzburg Festival. His collaboration with this conductor was extremely important to the progress of his career, which opened doors for him to work with many of the famous conductors of his time.

Cole has sung romantic lead roles at many of the top opera houses with some of the top orchestras in the world. Vinson is truly an international star redefining the roles he plays and the way opera fans experience a performance.


*When not traveling the world, Cole is a professor of voice at the University of Washington in Seattle.

*He is on the faculty of the Aspen Music Festival and School during the summer months.

*He has been honored with numerous awards including the Alumni Award from the Conservatory at UMKC, plus the Seattle Mayor’s Arts Award for outstanding individual achievement and commitment to the arts.


Vinson Cole – Bring Him Home

“Sanctus” from Dream of Gerontius



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