The American counter-tenor, Steven Rickards, studied at the Baroque Performance Institute with Russell Oberlin in 1976. He is the first counter-tenor to receive a Master of Music degree in vocal performance from Indiana University receiving the Performer's Certificate in 1979. In 1981 Rickards received a Fulbright-Hayes Scholarship and a Rotary International Grant for continued studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. He also studied in Aldeburgh with Sir Peter Pears and Robert Spencer. He is currently completing his doctorate at Florida State University.
Steven Rickards, has received international acclaim as one of America's finest counter-tenors. His appearances for the 1998-1999 season include performances throughout the USA and Spain with Paul Hillier and the Theatre of Voices; George Frideric Handel's Messiah with the Portland Baroque Orchestra and the Indianpolis Chamber Orchestra; J.S. Bach's Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) with the Miami Bach Society; J.S. Bach's Mass in B Minor (BWV 232) with the Barum Bach Choir in Oslo, Norway; J.S. Bach Cantatas BWV 102 and BWV 104 with the Dayton Bach Society and the American premiere performance of Michael Nyman's Self-Laudatory Hymn of Inanna and Her Omnipotence with the Netherlands Wind Ensemble in Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall.
Steven Rickards has become well known for his interpretations of the music of J.S. Bach. His frequent appearances with Joshua Rifkin and The Bach Ensemble include performances of the Magnificat (BWV 243) at Grant Park in Chicago and numerous performances of J.S. Bach's Mass in B Minor (BWV 232) including those in Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival, the Festival of Perth in Australia, and the Tage Alter Musik in Regensburg, Germany. He also performed J.S. Bach's St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) with Joshua Rifkin at the Royal Albert Hall in London, a Promenade concert recorded by the BBC. Other performances of J.S. Bach's works include the Mass in A (BWV 234) with Vocalisten Frankfurt in Germany and performances of the Christmas Oratorio with the Winchester Cathedral Choir in Brazil, a live broadcast of the work for National Public Radio with the Smithsonian Chamber Players. In 1997 he performed St. John Passion (BWV 245) with the Regensburger Domspatzen in Berlin and Munich, Germany.
Steven Rickards is also is frequently heard singing the works of G.F. Handel. He appeared in the Boston Early Music Festival's production of Teseo in 1985. He also participated in several Handelian productions with Concert Royal including Alessandro at Alice Tully Hall and Terpichore in the role of Apollo with performances in New York, Dallas and Puerto Rico. He performed Balshazzar with Cleveland's Apollo’s Fire, Samson with the Vancouver Chamber Choir, and Solomon with the Miami Bach Society. He also sang in productions of Partenope with Opera Omaha and Siroe at Merkin Hall in New York. Rickards has become well known for his creative interpretation of G.F. Handel's Messiah which he has performed with leading Baroque orchestras including Toronto's Tafelmusik, Boston's Handel and Haydn Society, Cleveland's Apollo’s Fire, and the Portland Baroque Orchestra. Other performances of the oratorio include performances with modern orchestras in many major American cities as well a performance at St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London.
Highlights of the past few seasons include several 20th century premiere performances of Baroque works, including Matthew Locke's Psyche in London with the English Opera Society, conducted by Philip Pickett; J.A. Hasse's L'Olimpiade in Dresden with the Kammerchor Stuttgart; and the American premiere of Mondonville's De Profundis at Harvard University. He celebrated his Australian debut in the Brisbane Biennial Festival with New York's Ensemble for Early Music, performing the medieval Daniel and the Lions to sell-out crowds and rave reviews. He has also appeared with the Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Chicago's Music of the Baroque (1985-2000), Basically Bach and His Majesty's Clerkes, Waverly Consort, Chanticleer (1985-1990), Capriole, American Bach Soloists, Gabrieli Consort , New London Consort, The King's Noyse, Ensemble Oubache, Theatre of Voices (1990-1998), New York Baroque Dance Co. (1985-2008), Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra (1987-2010), Chorworks (an instructor of vocal studies and a counter-tenor performer with the ensemble: 2008-1010), Christ Church Cathedral Indianapolis since 1994, counter-tenor in the Christ Church Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys, director of an annual music camp, "The Power of Song," for your singers age 6-12, vocal instructor for the boys and girls of the choir); the Opera Company of Philadelphia, and such orchestras as the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. He has sung at Carnegie Hall with the Oratorio Society of New York and in France as a soloist with The Festival Singers under the direction of Robert Shaw.
Steven Rickards's interest in contemporary music has inspired composers to write works for him. He created the role of Trinculo in the premiere of John Eaton's opera The Tempest at the Santa Fe Opera in 1985. Since then he has premiered works by Alan Ridout and Allyson Applebaum. In October 1993 Rickards performed the world premiere of Ladislav Kubik's Der Weg, an homage to Franz Kafka, at the Academy of Music in Prague.
With Lutenist Dorothy Linell, Steven Rickards has toured extensively throughout the USA and Central America giving concerts and master classes on Elizabethan song. They have been artists in residence at the University of California Santa Barbara and the University of Costa Rica. In the summer of 1989 they performed at the National Association of Teachers of Singing's national convention in Los Angeles. In September 1991 they made their debut in the Wratislawia Cantans Festival in Wroclaw, Poland, and have also performed in festivals in Denmark and England. Their second solo album, Songs of Thomas Campian is soon to be released on the Naxos label.
Steven Rickards has now completed several recordings: several J.S. Bach's Cantatas with Joshua Rifkin for Decca Records, J.S. Bach's St. John Passion (BWV 245) for the Smithsonian Institution, G.F. Handel's opera Siroe for Newport Classic, G.F. Handel's Messiah with Apollo’s Fire for Onda, several J.S. Bach's Cantatas and the Mass in B Minor (BWV 232) with the American Bach Soloists for Koch, the Dietrich Buxtehude Project Vol.1 Sacred Cantatas for PGM, a recording of music by Henry Purcell and Benjamin Britten with the Indianapolis Children's Choir for VAI, the Berlin Mass of Arvo Pärt with the Theatre of Voices directed by Paul Hillier for Harmonia Mundi, and an album of John Dowland songs entitled "Flow My Tears and Other Lute Songs" for Naxos.
Steven resides in Indianapolis, Indiana, and teaches singing at the University of Indianapolis where he has been Instructor of Vocal Studies (since August 1996) and Director of the Vocal Arts Institute/Adjunct Professor of Voice/ (since 1997). He has also been on the faculty of Butler University, where he taught singing and served as the vocal consultant to the Indianapolis Children's Choir (1994-2010), and has served as Instructor of Vocal Studies (since August 1994) and Adjunct Professor of Voice (since 1995). In summer 2001 he served on the faculty of the Summer Music International Summer School at Ardingly College in England. He was Tutor at AIMS International Music School (2005-2013); Teacher at Private Vocal Studio (since 1988; Teacher of high school, middle school students and adults). Hae President and Founder (2009) of Echoing Air in Indianapolis, a dynamic ensemble specializing in the repertoire of the English Baroque, with an emphasis on chamber works featuring countertenor voices with Baroque ensemble. Since August 2010, he is also Instructor of Vocal Studies at Marian University Indianapolis.