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16th annual Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition awards life-changing prizes to talented young singers

March 7, 2021

The 16th annual Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition awarded life-changing prizes to talented young singers during a virtual presentation on Sunday, March 7.  

As they say in the theater business, “The show must go on,” and that was certainly true of the 16th annual Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition. The event, which is typically held at the Singletary Center for the Arts in Lexington, was conducted virtually for the first time this year. Talented vocalists vied for more than $700,000 in scholarships and prizes and an opportunity to attend the University of Kentucky and join the UK Opera Theatre to pursue their musical dreams. During the virtual event, the international audience was treated to performances by 24 hopeful young vocalists representing 15 states and three countries.


The winners of the 2021 Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition are:


Undergraduate students

  • Alltech First-Place Undergraduate Award: Grace Victoria Platt; Floyds Knobs, Indiana
  • Alltech and Bryant’s Rent-All Second-Place Undergraduate Award: Ava Kuntz; Santa Ana, California
  • Alltech Feed Division Third-Place Undergraduate Award: Emily Wrede; Lexington, Kentucky
  • KPMG Third-Place Undergraduate Award: Holly Romanelli; Suffolk, Virginia
  • Barbara Rouse Kentucky Prize: Natalie Monell; Louisville, Kentucky
  • Alltech Encouragement Award: Alexandra Thibault; Lexington, Kentucky


Transfer student

  • First-Place Transfer Student Award: Amber Rogers; Washington, D.C.


Graduate students

  • Alltech First-Place Graduate Award: Houston Tyrrell; Louisville, Kentucky
  • Alltech Second-Place Graduate Award: Tshegofatso Clement Baloyi, Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa
  • Pearse and Deirdre Lyons Third-Place Award: Luke Norvell; Santa Clarita, California
  • Alltech Encouragement Award: Jeffrey Todd, Salisbury, Maryland
  • Alltech Crop Science–Gail Robinson Performance Award: Audra House; La Crosse, Wisconsin
  • Alltech and UK Alumni Award: Aimee Stuart-Flunker; Winfield, Illinois


The Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition was initiated in 2006 by the late Dr. Pearse Lyons, co-founder of Alltech, who was an avid supporter of the arts. His friendship with Dr. Everett McCorvey of the UK Opera Theatre inspired what is now one of the largest vocal scholarship competitions in the world.


“Congratulations to all of the vocalists who dared to pursue their dreams at the Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition today,” said Dr. Mark Lyons, president and CEO of Alltech and son of Dr. Pearse Lyons. “My father always carried a song with him and inspired others to do what makes their heart sing — to vigorously pursue their passion, whatever it may be. Thank you to the students and UK Opera Theatre staff who honor his memory and remind us that there are still reasons to sing and to dream.”


Finalists were scored based on their voice, technical skill, interpretation and accuracy by five judges: Barbara Lynn Jamison, who became Kentucky Opera’s chief artistic and executive officer in August 2018 when she was appointed as the sixth general director in the company’s 67-year history; Dr. Thomas King, a tenor who has performed in five world-premiere operas and numerous recitals throughout the U.S., Germany and Austria; Kevin Short, a bass-baritone who trained at the Julliard School of Music’s American Opera Center and winner of numerous competitions and awards; Angela Brown, whose performances on the leading opera and symphonic stages of the world have been lauded by the The New York Times, CNN and Oprah Magazine; and Brian Salesky, who served as executive and artistic director of Knoxville Opera from 2005 to 2020, leading the company through an unprecedented period of financial and artistic growth.


Since the Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition began, more than 170 students have been empowered to chase their operatic ambitions and receive an education in the arts. The competition attracts top vocal performers from around the world, helping them overcome financial barriers and paving their way to a successful career. It is credited as a driving force behind the UK Opera Theatre becoming a world-renowned program.


Competition winners have travelled the world while performing, teaching and providing inspiration to others. In Kentucky, they infuse art into the community through performances such as “A Grand Night for Singing” and the annual Alltech Celebration of Song.


The 2021 Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition can be viewed on-demand here with complimentary access.


If you would like to donate to the Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition, click here. Your contribution will help support education and the arts and will make a positive difference in the lives of talented students.



Images: For photos of the winners and event graphics, please click here.