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Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition Rewards Talent with Opportunity at the University of Kentucky

[LEXINGTON, Ky.] – Vibratos rang throughout the auditorium of the University of Kentucky Singletary Center for the Arts Sunday as 17 finalists performed for more than a half-million dollars in scholarships and prizes during the Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition.

Promising young vocalists exhibited the clarity, range and precision of their voices as they delivered selections of opera composition during the eighth annual competition. The finalists included Kentucky talent as well as a vocalist from as far as Brazil. A panel of three opera industry experts chose the winners of several prizes, with the top two undergraduate and graduate vocalists receiving cash prizes in addition to tuition waivers to attend the University of Kentucky.

Dr. Pearse Lyons, president and founder of Alltech, hands a scholarship check to Ryan Traub, the graduate winner of the Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition.

Overall winners of the 2013 Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition are:

  • Alltech Graduate Winner – Ryan Traub of Nashville, Tenn.
  • Second Place Alltech Graduate Winner – Iris Fordjour-Hankins of Detroit, Mich.
  • Alltech Undergraduate Winner – Willnard E. Anderson of Florissant, Mo.
  • Second Place Alltech Undergraduate Winner – Samantha Williams of Alexandria, Va.

Past winners of the Alltech Scholarship Competition have built a reputation for success in the world of opera, achieving positions with the Chicago Opera Theatre and the Houston Grand Opera. Since the competition was introduced, the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre has risen to become a top-20 opera program. Graduate winner Ryan Traub, who received his bachelor’s degree at Belmont University in Nashville, called the scholarship a “blessing” that will allow him to pursue his doctoral degree.

“This is a sign that the University of Kentucky is where I am supposed to be,” said Traub. “When I look at undertaking a doctorate, it’s a huge financial commitment. The fact that it’s taken care of allows me to plunge right in.”

"The most difficult contest to judge in seven years, this year’s competition has been one of the most exciting Alltech Competitions to date,” said Dr. Everett McCorvey, director of the UK Opera Theatre. “This is without a doubt the biggest competition in the country for any singer entering a university and I am delighted that it is here at the University of Kentucky. I am sure that our arts community will enjoy hearing these singers for the next few years as they matriculate at the University of Kentucky."

The event included performances from past winners of the Alltech Vocal Scholarship Program, including 2012 graduate winners Thomas Gunther and Kathrin Thawley, and the Kentucky McTeggart Irish Dancers.

“Seven years ago Everett told me he had a dream: Make Kentucky the number one opera school in America,” said Dr. Pearse Lyons, president and founder of Alltech. “Alltech got behind that dream. And in the past seven years, students from the UK Opera Theatre have helped children in Haiti and sung for the Queen of England at Windsor Castle. There’s no limit to what these next outstanding vocalists can do, in our community and around the world.”