Arts & Culture

21 Undergrads, Grad Students Compete in Alltech Vocal Competition

photo of Everett McCorvey, Dawna Warren and Mark Lyons with Dawna's large scholarship check
UK Opera Theatre Director Everett McCorvey (left) and Mark Lyons, president and CEO of Alltech, congratulate Dawna Warren on her Alltech First Place Graduate Award. Photo courtesy of Alltech.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 15, 2019) 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 to University of Kentucky and prizes that will jumpstart their operatic careers.

Alltech’s founder, 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. After his death, the Lyons family still considers education to be a critical investment in 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 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:

Undergraduate Division

• 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;

• KPMG Third Place Undergraduate Award: Lauren Maynus, Cincinnati, Ohio;

• Barbara Rouse Kentucky Prize: Sierra Kidd, Louisville;

• Burchfield & Thomas Gail Robinson Performance Award: Mae Alice Harrell, Louisville; and

• Encouragement Awards: Trinity Peace Hines-Anthony, Dayton, Ohio, and Amber Rogers, Washington, D.C.

Transfer Student Division

• First Place Transfer Student Award: Devin Davis, Brandywine, Maryland, and

• Transfer Student Encouragement Award: Kellie Sherwood, Lexington.


• 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; and

• 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 New York City Opera’s leading mezzo sopranos; and Thomas King, a tenor who has sung in five world-premiere operas.

The 2019 competition held March 10 at UK’s Singletary Center for the Arts awarded more than $740,000 in prizes. Launched in 2006, the annual competition at UK marks a continued partnership between Alltech and UK Opera Theatre. Since its start, more than 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.

“This time last year, we had just lost my father,” said 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.”

UK Opera Theatre is part of the School of Music at the UK College of Fine Arts. The school, currently celebrating its 100th anniversary, has garnered a national reputation for high-caliber education in opera, choral and instrumental music performance, as well as music education, music therapy, composition, and theory and music history.

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: #uk4ky #seeblue