Jordan College of Fine Arts
School of Music

Dr. Steven Rickards, countertenor


Steven Rickards has received international acclaim as one of America's finest countertenors. His appearances for the 1998-99 season include performances throughout the USA and Spain with Paul Hillier and the Theatre of Voices; Handel's Messiah with the Portland Baroque Orchestra and the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra; Bach's Christmas Oratorio with the Miami Bach Society; Bach's Mass in B Minor with the Barum Bach Choir in Oslo, Norway; J.S. Bach's Cantatas 102 and 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.

Dr. 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 at Grant Park in Chicago and numerous performances of Bach's Mass in B Minor 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 Bach's St. Matthew Passion with Mr. Rifkin at the Royal Albert Hall in London, a Promenade concert recorded by the BBC. Other performances of Bach's works include the Mass in A 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 the St. John Passion with the Regensburger Domspatzen in Berlin and Munich, Germany.

Dr. 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 Terpsichore 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 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 twentieth-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 Stuttgart Kammerchor; 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, Basically Bach and His Majesty's Clerkes, the Waverly Consort, Chanticleer, Capriole, the American Bach Soloists, The Gabrieli Consort, the New London Consort, The King's Noyse, Ensemble Ouabache, the Opera Company of Philadelphia, and the symphony orchestras of St. Louis, Indianapolis, and Pittsburgh. 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.

Dr. 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 Dr. 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, Dr. Rickards has toured extensively throughout the United States 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.

Dr. Rickards has now completed several recordings: Bach's Cantatas 106 and 131 with Joshua Rifkin for Decca Records, Bach's St. John Passion for the Smithsonian Institution, Handel's opera Siroe for Newport Classic, Handel's Messiah with Apollo's Fire for Onda, Bach's Cantatas 8 and 156 and the Mass in B Minor with the American Bach Soloists for Koch, the 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.

Dr. Rickards is the first countertenor to receive a master of music degree in vocal performance from Indiana University; he also received 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 completed his doctorate at Florida State University. Dr. Rickards also teaches at the University of Indianapolis, where he is the director of the Vocal Arts Institute. As a member of the faculty of Butler University he teaches singing and serves as the vocal consultant to the Indianapolis Children's Choir. This summer he will serve on the faculty of the Summer Music International Summer School at Ardingly College in England.

(317) 940-6048