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Students win life-changing prizes at 14th annual Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition

December 3, 2019

Dr. Everett McCorvey, director at UK Opera Theatre, and Dr. Mark Lyons, president and CEO of Alltech, present the Alltech First Place Incoming Undergraduate Award and Scholarship to Ann Weible at the 2019 Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition, where 21 young vocalists competed for more than $740,200 in scholarships and prizes.

Twenty-one undergraduate and graduate students took the stage at the 14th annual Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition to sing for their chance to win scholarships and prizes that will jumpstart their operatic careers.

The Lyons family has long believed that the arts are essential to creativity and imagination. Alltech’s founder, the late Dr. Pearse Lyons, was an avid supporter of the arts. In 2006, he initiated what is now one of the largest vocal scholarship programs in the world. The Lyonses consider education to be a critical investment in our community and the world around us.

“By providing opportunities for students to develop their talents and their passion, we can show our support of the arts,” said Mrs. Deirdre Lyons, co-founder and director of corporate image and design at Alltech. “This is what Pearse encouraged people to do, and it is a legacy that we will continue.”

Winners of the 2019 Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition are:


  • Alltech First Place Incoming Undergraduate Award and Scholarship: Ann Weible, Louisville, Kentucky
  • Alltech and Bryant’s Rent-All Second Place Undergraduate Award and Scholarship: Williams Stone Atkinson, Lexington, Kentucky
  • KPMG Third Place Undergraduate Award: Lauren Maynus, Cincinnati Ohio
  • Barbara Rouse Kentucky Prize: Sierra Kidd, Louisville, Kentucky
  • Burchfield  Thomas Gail Robinson Performance Award: Mae Alice Harrell, Louisville, Kentucky
  • Encouragement Award: Trinity Peace Hines-Anthony, Dayton, Ohio
  • Encouragement Award: Amber Rogers, Washington, D.C.


  • First Place Transfer Student Award: Devin Davis, Brandywine, Maryland
  • Transfer Student Encouragement Award: Kellie Sherwood, Lexington, Kentucky


  • Alltech First Place Graduate Award: Dawna Rae Warren, Princeton, Kentucky
  • Alltech Second Place Graduate Award: Emily Weaver, LaCrosse, Wisconsin
  • Alltech Third Place Graduate Award: Jeffery Todd, Salisbury, Maryland
  • Encouragement Award: Myah Rose Paden, Athens, Georgia

Finalists were scored on voice, technical skill, interpretation, accuracy and appearance by three judges: Barbara Lynn Jamison, Kentucky Opera’s chief artistic and executive officer; Susanne Marsee, one of the New York City Opera’s leading mezzos for over 20 years; and Dr. Thomas King, a tenor who has sung in five world-premiere operas.

The competition, held March 10 at the University of Kentucky Singletary Center for the Arts, featured a pool of more than $740,200 in prizes. Launched in 2006, the annual competition at the University of Kentucky marks a continued partnership between Alltech and the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre department. Since its start, over 150 students have received over $1.3 million in cash prizes and over $5.6 million in scholarships and assistantships. This totals more than $7 million in collaborative investment into the lives of students who want to pursue a career in the arts at UK. The partnership has also positioned UK Opera Theatre as a Richard Tucker Music Foundation top-recommended opera program.

“This time last year, we had just lost my father,” said Dr. Mark Lyons, president and CEO of Alltech, during the opening remarks. “It was right here that I gave my first public speech after his passing. I have to say, giving that speech — and feeling the support from the community and the vocalists who shared their talent on this stage — inspired us, and exemplified the legacy that has been built here.

“We look forward to seeing what’s next for the vocal scholarship winners, and for this unique competition, as we continue to carry the legacy forward,” he continued.