Arts & Culture

Young Vocalists Earn Life-changing Prizes at 15th Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition

photo of Mark Lyons, Christopher Burchett and Everett McCorvey
photo of Mark Lyons, Jania Gomes-Moniz and Everett McCorvey

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 11, 2020) Eighteen hopeful graduate and undergraduate students took the stage at the Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition to vie for more than $700,000 in scholarships and prizes and an opportunity to join the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre.

The winners of the 2020 Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition are:


  • Alltech First Place Undergraduate Award: Jania Gomes-Moniz, Louisville, Kentucky
  • Alltech and Bryant’s Rent-All Second Place Undergraduate Award: Harrison Hancock, Lexington
  • KPMG Third Place Undergraduate Award (tie): Kacie Galarce, Miami, Florida; and Sophia Baete, Louisville
  • Barbara Rouse Kentucky Prize: Luke Dailey, Lexington
  • Alltech Encouragement Award: Mya Barber, Tallahassee, Florida
  • Alltech Encouragement Award: Liam Anderson, Lakeland, Florida
  • Alltech Encouragement Award: Theo Harrah, Louisville


  • Alltech First Place Graduate Award: Christopher Burchett, Lexington
  • Alltech Second Place Graduate Award: Erica Gabriel, Southfield, Michigan
  • Alltech Third Place Graduate Award: Miguel Angel Ortega Bañales, Berea, Kentucky
  • Alltech Gail Robinson Performance Award: Eliana Barwinski, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Alltech Encouragement Award: Christina Kerstan, Park Hills, Kentucky
  • Alltech Encouragement Award: Aaron Eaves, Henderson, Kentucky

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; Thomas King, a tenor who has performed in five world-premiere operas and numerous recitals throughout the U.S., Germany and Austria; and Kevin Short, a bass-baritone who trained at the Julliard School of Music’s American Opera Center, and winner of numerous competitions and awards.

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 Everett McCorvey, director of UK Opera Theatre, inspired what is now one of the largest vocal scholarship competitions in the world.

“Author Julie Connor wrote that passion fuels dreams, and commitment fuels action,” said Mark Lyons, president and CEO of Alltech. “The legacy of my father to encourage the next generation as they pursue their dreams is preserved by this competition. We thank the students, Dr. McCorvey and the team at the UK Opera Theatre for putting his bold vision into action.”

Since the 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 UK.

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 such as “A Grand Night for Singing!” and the annual 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 three 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" two 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 four 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.