Singers gave their vocal cords a workout Sunday afternoon. The reason? A shot to win a portion of over half-a-million dollars in scholarships.
Since being launched in 2006, the annual Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition has awarded more than $3 million in scholarships. Touted as the largest vocal competition in the state, 21 high school and college students from Lexington to Panama took part in Sunday’s contest. Previous winners have gone on to join Opera Philadelphia and the Merola Opera Program in San Francisco.
Nick Rowan, a senior at duPont Manual High School in Louisville, said he tried out for the competition because he likes the University of Kentucky.
“They have such great faculty here and there’s a lot of money on the table,” he said.
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Rowan said he has many reasons why he likes music.
“Just everything about it,” he said. “The history of it. How we got here. How our voices can create such powerful, beautiful sounds that can fill up a whole hall full of thousands of people.”
Rowan performed “O del mio dolce ardor” by opera composer Christoph Willibald Gluck. Other musical choices Sunday ranged from pieces by classical composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to 20th century German composer Kurt Weill.
The singers in the competition were not the only ones to shine. Previous competition winners also performed as the judges conferred with each other before announcing the winners.
In the end, Parker Van Houten of Louisville came in first in the undergraduate category, winning a $6,000 stipend and fully paid tuition at the University of Kentucky to pursue a Bachelor of Music degree. Jessica Bayne, of Christiansburg, Va., came in first place in the graduate category, winning a $12,000 stipend, a full graduate assistantship at UK and a yearly graduate stipend with UK Opera Theatre.