Of 300 applicants, 26 undergraduate and graduate students representing four countries took the stage at the 13th annual Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition to sing for their chance to win scholarships and prizes that will jump-start their operatic careers.

Alltech’s founder and president, the late Dr. Pearse Lyons, who passed away March 8, was an avid supporter of the arts and initiated what has become Kentucky’s largest vocal competition in 2006.

“Today we will mourn, but we will also celebrate his and his wife Deirdre’s contribution to the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition,” said Dr. Everett McCorvey, director of the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre.

Winners of the 2018 Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition are:

  • First Place Alltech Undergraduate Winner: Casey Mayo, Hunstville, Alabama
  • Second Place Bryant's Rent-All and Alltech Crop Science Undergraduate Winner: Samuel Powless, Paducah, Kentucky
  • Third Place Alltech Lexington Brewing and Distilling Undergraduate Winner: Ethan Mooney, Lexington, Kentucky
  • Barbara Rouse Kentucky Award: Casteel Fullen, Louisville, Kentucky
  • Kayfield Academy Encouragement Award: Faith Craven, Fairdale, Kentucky
  • Addington and Mills Encouragement Award: Lucy Dever, Wilmore, Kentucky
  • Alltech Encouragement Award: Katie Copeland, Lexington, Kentucky
  • First Place Alltech Transfer Student Winner: Marquita Richardson, Pottstown, Pennsylvania
  • Second Place Alltech Crop Science Transfer Student Winner: Nathaniel Thompson, Mount Vernon, New York
  • First Place Alltech Graduate Winner: Jeremy Kelly, Bowling Green, Kentucky
  • Second Place Alltech Graduate Winner: Taylor Comstock, Independence, Kentucky
  • Third Place Gail Robinson Graduate Winner: Tanyaradza Tawengwa, Harare, Zimbabwe
  • Dr. Pearse and Mrs. Deirdre Lyons Performance Encouragement Award: Emily Weaver, La Crosse, Wisconsin
  • J. Alexander's Restaurant Encouragement Award: Kendra Beasley, Madison, Georgia
  • ALTOUR Encouragement Award: Gabrielle Fuqua, Florence, Alabama
  • The Webb Companies Encouragement Award: Hunter Shaner, Salisbury, Maryland
  • McCauley's Encouragement Award: Tianxi Wang, Yangzhou, Jiangsu, China

Finalists were scored on voice, technical skill, interpretation, accuracy and appearance by five judges: Marcus Küchle, the director of artistic operations at the Cincinnati Opera; Ian Derrer, the general director of the Kentucky Opera; Dr. Thomas King, a tenor who has sung in five world premier operas; Susanne Marsee, one of the New York City Opera’s leading mezzos for over 20 years; and Michael Spierman, founder of the Bronx Opera Company.

The competition, held March 11 at the University of Kentucky Singletary Center for the Arts, featured a pool of $500,000 in prizes. Launched in 2006, the annual competition at the University of Kentucky marks a continued partnership between Alltech and the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre department. Since its start, over 150 students have received over $1.3 million in cash prizes and over $5.6 million in scholarships and assistantships. This totals nearly $7 million in collaborative investment into the lives of students who want to pursue a career in the arts at UK. The partnership has also positioned UK Opera Theatre as a Richard Tucker Music Foundation top recommended opera program.

In a tribute video shown prior to the competition, Dr. Lyons was seen delivering a speech in which he told his audience to “do what makes your heart sing.” Dr. Lyons always sought to empower people to achieve their potential and purpose in life. The Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition is a testament to that, enabling young performers to sing the song in their soul and achieve their dreams.

Lyons’ son, Dr. Mark Lyons, said his father’s legacy is the belief that every individual can make a difference, a belief that he shared with his friend Everett.

“That now is the challenge for all of us,” said Lyons, “to carry on his legacy and make a difference. That’s why he encouraged so many to dream and supported the fulfillment of those dreams.”

About Alltech:

Founded in 1980 by Irish entrepreneur and scientist Dr. Pearse Lyons, Alltech discovers and delivers solutions for the sustainable nutrition of plants, animals and people. With expertise in yeast fermentation, solid state fermentation and the science of nutrigenomics, Alltech is a leading producer and processor of yeast additives, organic trace minerals, feed ingredients, premix and feed.

Our guiding ACE principle seeks to develop solutions that are safe for the Animal, Consumer and the Environment. Our more than 5,000 talented team members worldwide put this purpose to work every day for our customers.

Alltech is a family-owned company, which allows us to adapt quickly to emerging customer needs and to stay focused on advanced innovation. Headquartered just outside of Lexington, Kentucky, USA, Alltech has a strong presence in all regions of the world. For further information, visit Join us in conversation on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.