Arts & Culture

UK Students Take Honors at Audrey Rooney Vocalist Competition

photo of Marlon Hurst, Kayleen Sánchez, Joseph Kingsbury, Audrey Rooney, Amy Broadbent, Tanyaradzwa Tawengwa and Zach Klobnak
(Left to right) Marlon Hurst, Kayleen Sánchez, Joseph Kingsbury, Audrey Rooney, Amy Broadbent, Tanyaradzwa Tawengwa and Zach Klobnak. Photo provided.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 31, 2019) Two University of Kentucky students took home honors at the sixth Audrey Rooney Vocal Competition presented by the Kentucky Bach Choir on April 13. Ten singers from Kentucky and surrounding areas competed in the hopes of winning one of several cash prizes.

Audrey Heyman Rooney is a member of the Kentucky Bach Choir Board of Directors and is the current sponsor of the contest. The competition was founded to encourage young singers in the study and presentation of the solo repertoire of Johann Sebastian Bach and the sacred solo repertoire of Franz Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Students are selected by submitting a recording to the Kentucky Bach Choir Artistic Director Marlon Hurst and Rooney. Out of the 10 singers selected to compete, four represented UK.

As part of the competition, the students sang in front of such adjudicators as Kayleen Sánchez, voice professor at the College of Charleston (South Carolina), and Zach Klobnak, college organist and instructor of organ, harpsichord and piano at Centre College and accompanist for the Kentucky Bach Choir.

This year, two Encouragement Awards were presented to UK Opera Theatre students — soprano and doctoral candidate Tanyaradzwa A. Tawengwa, of Zimbabwe, and vocal performance junior and countertenor Joseph Kingsbury, of Prospect, Kentucky. As award recipients, Tawengwa and Kingsbury each received a $500 cash prize and the invitation to perform with the Kentucky Bach Choir as a guest soloist.

Local audiences can hear Kingsbury perform next at "It's a Grand Night for Singing!" June 7-16, at UK's Singletary Center for the Arts

The Kentucky Bach Choir shares the music of Bach and other master composers with the greater Commonwealth. In addition to its regular concert performances in Lexington, the choir has performed in Louisville, Berea, Richmond, Danville, Paris, Frankfort, Williamsburg and Maysville.

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.

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 two years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. The Chronicle of Higher Education judged us a “Great College to Work for,”  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 three 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.