Arts & Culture

Dreams come true through music at 19th annual Alltech & UK Opera Theatre Vocal Scholarship Competition


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 23, 2024) — Talented vocalists from across the country and around the globe will sing for coveted prizes at the 19th annual Alltech & UK Opera Theatre Vocal Scholarship Competition on Sunday, March 3. The competition begins at 2 p.m. at the University of Kentucky Singletary Center for the Arts. Admission is complimentary. 

The Alltech & UK Opera Theatre Vocal Scholarship Competition — the largest competition of its kind in the world — awards more than $700,000 in scholarships and prizes and affords winners the opportunity to join the world-renowned UK Opera Theatre program at the University of Kentucky. The competition judges will select multiple winners in a variety of categories, including undergraduate, graduate and transfer students. Along with scholarships to attend UK, including full-tuition awards, other cash prizes will also be distributed to the winners. 

A premier event for the opera community, the Alltech & UK Opera Theatre Vocal Scholarship Competition was initiated by the late Pearse Lyons, co-founder of Alltech, who was an avid supporter of the arts. Lyons was committed to bringing some of the top vocal performers from across the globe to Central Kentucky and to removing any financial burdens they may face on their path to a successful future. As a result of this passion, and through Lyons’ friendship with Everett McCorvey of the UK Opera Theatre, the Alltech & UK Opera Theatre Vocal Scholarship Competition was born.

Since the program launched in 2006, the Alltech & UK Opera Theatre Vocal Scholarship Competition has enabled more than 190 undergraduate and graduate students to pursue an education in the arts and to advance their vocal expertise with some of the leading scholars and artists in the opera world. Previous winners of the competition say that the scholarships awarded to them have changed their lives.

“The Alltech [& UK Opera Theatre] Vocal Scholarship has been so impactful on me because it’s truly allowed me to focus on my academics and musicianship here at UK,” said Maximus Taylor, winner of the Pearse and Deirdre Lyons First-Place Undergraduate Award and Scholarship in 2023. “It’s really going to allow me to become the best musician I can. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity, and I just want to thank Alltech for being so invested in classical voice, because it is truly a beautiful art form.”

Audrianna Hughes, winner of the Reginald Smith Jr. Scholarship in Opera Graduate Award — sponsored by Reginald Smith Jr., a 2007 Alltech Vocal Scholar who has gone on to build an impressive career in opera — echoes Taylor’s sentiments.

“The Alltech [& UK Opera Theatre] Vocal Scholarship Award has impacted my life in many, many ways. I love every moment I get to make music, so that’s my drive,” she said. “To be the very first recipient of the Reginald Smith Jr. Scholarship was absolutely marvelous. I’ve seen him on the walls of the hallway here at UK, so I was like, ‘He’s got to be a big deal.’”

As students in the UK Opera Theatre program, Alltech & UK Opera Theatre Vocal Scholars like Taylor and Hughes continue to bring art and music to Central Kentucky throughout the year with performances like “A Grand Night for Singing” and the annual Alltech Celebration of Song, a free holiday concert at Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park. 

To learn more about the Alltech & UK Opera Theatre Vocal Scholarship Competition, and to watch last year’s competition, visit


As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

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