Countertenor Steven Rickards is a graduate of the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. He received both a Fulbright-Hayes Scholarship and a Rotary International Grant to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, where his teacher was Margaret Lensky and he took diplomas in singing and opera performance. He additionally studied in Aldeburgh with Sir Peter Pears and Robert Spencer.
Rickards made his professional debut in Handel’s Teseo at the Boston Early Music Festival in 1985. He combined a burgeoning solo career with several years of touring with the ensemble Chanticleer. He has appeared with many of the world’s leading ensembles in the field of historical performance, including the Gabrieli Consort, the New London Consort, Handel and Haydn Society, Tafelmusik, Theatre of Voices, American Bach Soloists, Smithsonian Chamber Players, the Ensemble for Early Music, the Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Apollo’s Fire, Portland Baroque Orchestra, and Concert Royal with the New York Baroque Dance Company. He sang regularly with Joshua Rifkin and the Bach Ensemble in notable performances of St. Matthew Passion at the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall, the Mass in B Minor at Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival, and the Tage Alter Musik in Regensburg, Germany.
Modern repertory has equally distinguished Rickards’ solo career. The fruits of his doctoral research and a fellowship at Florida State University have been published in his book, Twentieth Century Countertenor Repertoire (Scarecrow Press). He has premiered operas with roles written expressly for him. In 2000 he sang the premiere of John Adams' oratorio El Niño at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, a role which he has reprised many times throughout the world with orchestras including the BBC Philharmonic, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester, St. Louis Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Norsk Opera (Norway), the Malmo Opera (Sweden), and at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston. Rickards has many recordings to his credit on Decca, Newport Classics, Onda, Koch International Classics and Harmonia Mundi labels, as well as two solo lute-song discs on the Naxos label.
In 2009 Rickards founded the ensemble Echoing Air, which specializes in English Baroque music with an emphasis on the countertenor voice. The group performs local and regional concerts and master classes, with tours annually throughout the United States.