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The 17th annual Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition returns to award life-changing prizes

March 6, 2022

The 17th annual Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition awarded life-changing prizes to talented young singers on Sunday, March 6, 2022.   

The walls of the Singletary Center for the Arts reverberated with the sound of students singing for their dreams at the 17th annual Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition on Sunday. The event — which was held virtually in 2021 — once again welcomed a live audience as 15 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.

The winners of the 2022 Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition are:

Undergraduate students

Alltech 1st Place Undergraduate Award & Scholarship: Saige Hoffman*; Miami, Florida

Alltech & Bryant's Rent-All 2nd Place Undergraduate Award & Scholarship: Gloree Nell Wood*; Benton, Kentucky

Alltech Feed Division 3rd Place Undergraduate Award: Calista Case*; Lexington, Kentucky

Alltech Crop Science Undergraduate Award: Dejah Watts; Indianapolis, Indiana

Barbara Rouse Kentucky Prize: Isabella Recktenwald; Louisville, Kentucky  


Graduate students

Alltech 1st Place Graduate Award + Graduate Assistantship: Daniel Rich*; Baltimore, Maryland

Alltech 2nd Place Graduate Award + Graduate Assistantship: Christopher Burchett*; Lexington, Kentucky

Pearse & Deirdre Lyons Award + Half Assistantship: Jessica Bayne*; Lexington, Kentucky

Graduate Encouragement Award: Blayne Ziegenfuss; Knoxville, Tennessee 

Gail Robinson Alumni Performance Award: Fairynne Rogers; Lexington, Kentucky


Transfer student

1st Place Transfer Student Award: Dylon Crain*; Louisville, Kentucky  

*These winners also received a tuition stipend to study at the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS) in Graz, Austria. AIMS is the leading summer music program in Europe.  

“The past few weeks have been a time when many of our hearts are heavy given what’s happening around the world and particularly in the Ukraine,” said Dr. Mark Lyons, president and CEO of Alltech. “It is during this time that the arts can provide a sense of joy and unity. Today’s competition featured an extraordinary group of talented young people. We thank them for being here and sharing their musical gifts with us.”

Finalists were scored based on their voice, technical skill, interpretation and accuracy by three judges: Evans Mirageas, who is in his fourteenth season as The Harry T. Wilks Artistic Director of Cincinnati Opera and is widely considered one of the most talented and respected artistic leaders in the classical music industry today; Luther Lewis, III, a multidisciplinary artist, singer, teacher and director within classical voice/opera, theater and visual art and the Crane Directing Fellow at Opera Columbus; and Dr. Thomas King, a tenor who has performed in five world-premiere operas — three of which were written especially for him — and numerous recitals throughout the U.S., Germany and Austria.

The Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition was initiated in 2006 by the late Dr. Pearse Lyons, Mark’s father and 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.

Since the Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition began, more than 180 students have been empowered to chase their operatic ambitions and receive an education in the arts. The competition attracts some of the top vocal performers from around the world, helping them overcome financial barriers and paving their way to a successful career. It is credited as being 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.

Before today’s competition drew to a close, Dr. Mark Lyons made an exciting announcement about a new foundation to benefit hopeful vocal students.

“My father would often encourage us all to dream bigger,” said Lyons. “It is in that spirit that we are creating a foundation to ensure this program continues to change the lives of students and allow them to pursue their dreams.”

The foundation is launching with a $50,000 donation from Mark and Mrs. Deirdre Lyons, Dr. Mark Lyons’ mother and co-founder and director of corporate image and design at Alltech. The donation will then be matched by the Pearse Lyons ACE Foundation — a nonprofit foundation that supports Alltech’s philanthropic efforts around the world — for a total initial contribution of $100,000. Additional details will be announced soon.

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.