Arts & Culture

More Than $700,000 Awarded to Aspiring UK Opera Stars in 2021 Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition

photo of 2021 undergraduates of Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition
photo of graduate winners at 2021 Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 15, 2021) Talented graduate and undergraduate students from around the globe vied for the spotlight at the 2021 Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition presented virtually March 7. As part of the competition, vocalists competed for more than $700,000 in scholarships and prizes and an opportunity to join University of Kentucky Opera Theatre.

"In the 16 years that we have been presenting the competition, this is probably the most talented field that we've ever had. At both the entering undergraduate level and the entering graduate level, the talent is simply off the charts! I am so honored that Alltech and the University of Kentucky partners with us in this endeavor. The Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition has been a game changer for our program," said UK Opera Theatre Director Everett McCorvey of the UK School of Music.

The winners of the 2021 Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition are:


  • Alltech First Place Undergraduate Award and Scholarship: Grace Victoria Platt, of Floyds Knob, Indiana
  • Alltech and Bryant’s Rent-All Second Place Undergraduate Award and Scholarship: Ava Kuntz, of Santa Ana, California
  • Alltech Feed Division Third Place Undergraduate Award: Emily Wrede, of Lexington
  • KPMG Undergraduate Award: Holly Romanelli, of Suffolk, Virginia
  • Barbara Rouse Kentucky Prize: Natalie Monell, of Louisville, Kentucky
  • Alltech Encouragement Award: Alexandra Thibault, of Lexington
  • First Place Transfer Student Award: Amber Rogers, of Washington, D.C.


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

Finalists were scored on voice, technical skill, interpretation, accuracy and appearance. To listen to this year’s competitors, visit for on-demand free access to recordings of the 2021 competition.

Tyrrell was ecstatic to win the graduate division of the competition and finalize his return to his alma mater. "My past four years at UK have been so foundational to my growth as a person, an artist and a leader. The incredible teaching, the numerous performance opportunities, and the very supportive arts community here in Lexington all come together to create an exceptionally unique program that has time and time again proven its success through its various accolades and distinguished alumni.

“I am very grateful to the Lyons family at Alltech for providing me with the opportunity to continue my education here and pursue the master's degree with the hopes of joining that long list of working alumni. I will be the first one in my family to receive a college degree, let alone a master's degree. Winning this prestigious award means that I can give my all to this art form while also adding a brand-new chapter to my family history. This award signifies my commitment to this lifelong career, and I very much look forward to representing UK Opera Theatre, Alltech and the state of Kentucky in years to come!"

The Lyons family has long believed that the arts are essential to creativity and imagination. Alltech’s founder, the late Pearse Lyons, was an avid supporter of the arts. His friendship with McCorvey inspired what is now one of the largest vocal scholarship competitions in the world.

Since the Alltech Vocal Competition began in 2006, more than 160 students have been empowered to chase their operatic ambitions and receive an education in the arts. Winners have received over $1.4 million in cash prizes and over $6.1 million in scholarships and assistantships. This totals more than $7 million in collaborative investment into the lives of students who wish to pursue a career in the arts at the University of Kentucky College of Fine 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 for being a driving force behind making UK Opera Theatre a world-renowned program. Winners have traveled the world — performing, teaching and providing inspiration to others. In Kentucky, they infuse art into the community through performances at such beloved town-and-gown events as “A Grand Night for Singing!” and the Alltech Celebration of Song.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.