Steven Rickards: Countertenor


Steven Rickards has received international acclaim as one of America’s finest countertenors. After performing in the premiere of John Adams’s oratorio El Nino at the Chatelet opera in Paris, he has sung with the Adelaide Symphony, the BBC Philharmonic, the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, the Tokyo Symphony, and the Malmo Opera (Sweden). His schedule of performances has included frequent appearances Joshua Rifkin and the Bach Ensemble as well as The American Bach Soloists, Chanticleer, Ensemble Voltaire (formerly Ensemble Oubache), the Gabrieli Consort, Chicago’s Music of the Baroque, the New London Consort, The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Seattle Baroque Orchestra, the Opera Company of Philadelphia, The Santa Fe Opera, and the symphony orchestras of Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and St. Louis and Tokyo. 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. His current ensemble Echoing Air, presents programs of Purcell and other pre-Baroque Composers in the U.S and Great Britain. Steven currently lives in Indianapolis where he teaches singing at Butler University and the University of Indianapolis.

Thomas Campion Lute Songs
Dorothy Linell, Lute
Naxos : 8.553380
John Dowland

Flow My Tears and Other Lute Songs
Dorothy Linell, Lute
Naxos : 8.553381

Ladislav Kubik

Chamber MusicII

Triptych on Text by Franz Kafka

col legno :WWE 1CD 20072

Henry Purcell/Benjamin Britten  

Come Ye Sons of Arts/A Ceremony of Carols
Be Welcome then Great Sir (Rickards/ICC)
Fairest Isle (Rickards/ICC)
Sweeter Than Roses (Rickards)

Indianapolis Children’s Choir/Leck
VAI Audio: VAIA 1130

Opera/ Choral
John Adams El Niño
Deutches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin /Nagano
Nonesuch: 79634-2
J.S. Bach

Cantatas BWV 8. 156
American Bach Soloists/ Thomas
Koch: 3-7163-2 H1

J.S. Bach

Cantatas BWV 182, 12, 172
Three Weimar Cantatas
Bach Ensemble/Rifkin
Dorian: DOR-93231

J.S. Bach

Cantatas BWV 106, 131
Bach Ensemble/Rifkin
L’Oiseau Lyre: 417 323-2

J.S. Bach

Mass in B Minor
American Bach Soloists/Thomas
Koch: 3-7194-2 Y6x2

J.S. Bach

St. John Passion BWV 245
Smithsonian Chamber Players/Slowik
Smithsonian: ND 0381

Dietrich Buxtehude

The Buxtehude Project Vol.1 Sacred Cantatas
Sarum Consort/Johnson

G. F. Handel

Apollo’s Fire/ Sorrell

G. F. Handel

Brewer Baroque Orcheststra/ Palmer
Newport Classics:NCD 60125/1/2/3

J.H. Kapsberger,Domenico Zipoli

The Jesuit Operas
Ensemble Abendmusik/Christie
Dorian: DOR93243

Salamone Rossi 

The Songs of Solomon
Volume II: Holiday and Festival Music
New York Baroque/Milnes


The Anniversary Album 1978-1988
Harold Arlen: Stormy Weather (Rickards)

Chanticleer Records: CR-8801

Anoine Brumel

Missa Bezerette Savoyenne
Chanticleer Records

William Byrd

In Tempore Paschali
Harmonia Mundi: HMT 7905182


Our Heart’s Joy
A Chanticleer Christmas
Chanticleer Records: CR-8803


Where the Sun Never Goes Down(Spirituals and Traditional Gospel Music)
Teldec: 4509-90878-2


On the Air
(Live Radio Highlights)
Chanticleer Records: CR-8807

Christ Church Cathedral
  Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols

Sweet Was the Song the Virgin Sang-Thomas Morley

Steven Rickards, Countertenor

Dorothy Linell, Lute

Jeffrey Collier, recorder
Four Winds: FW 3011

My Spirit Rejoices
Christ Church Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys/Burgomaster
Gothic: G 49115

Theatre of Voices


Theatre of Voices/Hillier
Harmonia Mundi: 907276


Hoquetus (Medieval European Vocal Music)
Theatre of Voices/ Hillier
Harmonia Mundi: 907185

Ingram Marshall

Hymnodic Delays
Ingram Marshall Kingdom Come
Theatre of Voices/ Hillier
Nonesuch: 79613-2

Arvo Pärt   Berliner Messe
I Am the True Vine
Theatre of Voices/ Hillier
Harmonia Mundi: HMU 907242


World premiere production of John Adams’ El Niño from the Théâtre Musical de Paris-Châtelet
Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, mezzo-soprano
Dawn Upshaw, soprano
Willard White, baritone

Theatre of Voices – Paul Hillier, director
Daniel Bubeck, Brian Cummings, Steven Rickards, countertenor trio

Daniela Graca, Nora Kimball, Michael Schumacher, dancers
London Voices – Terry Edwards, director
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Kent Nagano, conductor

Original stage production directed by Peter Sellars
Directed for video by Peter Maniura

Special Features: Making of including interviews with Peter Sellars, Kent Nagano, Dawn Upshaw, and John Adams
Released by Arthaus Musik


Bach’s Mass in B Minor, Miami Bach Society, Fl

Among the vocal soloists,countertenor Steven Rickards was a standout. His unique plaintive vocal timbre and superb musicianship were the essence of great singing.

The Miami Herald- April 27, 2005

Bach’s Mass in B Minor, Champaign, IL

In the aria,�Qui sedes ad dextram Patris, counter-tenor Steven Rickards�agile voice blended beautifully with the smoky tone of Alison Robuck�s oboe d�amore.�

The News-Gazette-March 23, 2004

Moretti’s Vespro, New York City Ballet, New York State Theater, New York, NY

Anyone familiar with the fragmented sounds of the Italian Avant garde will feel at home. Bruno Moretti, a leading Italian composer and conductor, has written a fine commissioned score, which he played on stage on a grand piano. Albert Regni, principal saxophonist with the New York Philharmonic and the City Ballet, and Steven Rickards, as a splendid countertenor, contributed to the variety of texture and sudden near-void of notes hanging in the air.�

�The New York Times-May 10, 2002

Bach’s Three Weimar Cantatas, BWV 182, 12, 172 -The Bach Ensemble, Joshua Rifkin

“This historically informed performance will certainly please the purists who prefer their cantatas in an unadulterated form, played on original instruments as though freshly sprung from the mind of the composer. This performance is spare and delicate rather than passionate, partly because the cantatas’ tight composition leaves little room for individuality and personal expression. In keeping with their devotional spirit, the singing is serious, smooth (particularly Rickards’s), and straightforward.”

Audiophile Audition Classical CD Reviews, September 2001

John Adams’s El Ni�o, Davies Hall, San Francisco, CA

“The Texture of El Ni�o achieves a new kind of eloquence for Adams. The almost medieval harmonies assigned to a consort of countertenors from Paul Hillier’s Theatre of Voices�Daniel Bubeck, Brian Cummings, and Steven Rickards, all exceptionally mellifluous and wonderfully pristine in projection, �lends a serene, other-worldly quality to much of the work.”

San Francisco Chronicle-January 11, 2001

John Adams’s El Ni�o, Th��tre du Ch�telet, Paris

“A trio of excellent countertenors �Daniel Bubeck, Brian Cummings, and Steven Rickards�both narrate and take part in the in action as the Three Wise Men.”

The Times (London)- December 20, 2000

Carissimi’s Jephte, May Festival, Cincinnati, OH

“Adding to the authentic touch was the timbre of countertenor Steven Rickards, who made an arresting narrator (Historicus). He performed his recitatives with agility and remarkably pure penetrating tone.”

The Cincinnati Enquirer-May 23, 2000

Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Seattle WA

“Rickards’ voice is of the same type as the pioneer of the 20th-century, Alfred Deller, but reaps all the benefits of a generation later, of Deller’s and others research and experience. Rickards strong straight voice is warm, open, and excellently supported, with no hint of his predecessor’s somewhat hooty quality, and as perfectly on pitch as that of (Ellen) Hargis.”

Seattle Post-Intelligencer- January 26, 1998

John Dowland:“Flow my Tears” and other Lute Songs

“This disc is an unalloyed delight. Steven Rickards’s flexible and limpid voice seems to me just right for Dowland’s highly expressive songs, and he receives admirable support from lutenist Dorothy Linell. Nineteen lute songs are interspersed with seven solo lute pieces. The selection could hardly be better: a good range of the popular songs, “Come again,” “Flow my tears,” “Me, me, and none but me,” “Now, oh now” and “Fine knacks for ladies,” as well as some wonderful songs that aren’t quite so well known: “In darkness let me dwell,” “Come, heavy sleep” and my own favourite, “Time stands still”. Dorothy Linell’s lute solos are, for the most part, not by Dowland, but include several anonymous pieces, as well as Francis Cutting�s divisions on Greensleeves. They do a good job of lightening the predominately dark tone of Dowland’s songs. Given Naxos’s unbeatable -, I’d say go right out and buy this one!”

Continuo, Magazine June 1998 Vocal Reviews

Handel’s Messiah, Princeton Pro Musica, Princeton, NJ

“Countertenor Steven Rickards brought crystal-clear diction, intelligent musicianship, and a lovely pure falsetto tone to his solo work. He was mesmerizing in all his numbers. His expertise in Baroque performance was evident in the frequent and sometimes elaborate ornaments he added to his recitatives and arias.”

Town Topics- December 24, 1997

“Four superb soloists contributed to the success of the presentation. Countertenor Steven Rickards was the most effective. His voice is a striking instrument, which gave a deeply moving impact to the segments “He was despised,” “O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion,” and “He shall feed his flock.” His singing was also marked by a deep sense of involvement with the texts.”

The Times-December 27, 1997

Recital, Rickards Linell Duo, presented by Capriole Williamsburg, VA

“The quality that deserves attention is superbly Rickards takes words and tunes and fashions them into emotionally meaningful moments. Inflection and a slight gesture or two, at the hands of such a superb vocalist, generate degrees of rare visual imagery, sublime and auditory excitement. The audience seemed to hang on to every word, fully captive to his lyrical voice, meaningful delivery, and thoroughly delightful commentary.”

The Virginia Gazette- February 2, 1997

Bach’s Mass in B Minor, The Bach Ensemble, Perth, Australia

“And with unfailing bouyancy of momentum (and where appropriate, of mood) and gratifying liner and harmonic clarity, one was exposed more often than not to a euphoric listening experience, as gratifying as it is rare.� This was especially so in relation to countertenor Steven Rickards, whose pure-toned account of Qui Sedes was beyond reproach, singing in which the soloist took up an interpretative stance at the emotional epicentre of the aria.”

Western Australian-March 3, 1997

Bach’s Mass in B Minor, Dayton Bach Society, OH

“The clouds opened and the angels sang, however, whenever countertenor Steven Rickards opened his mouth. “Glorious” was the word most often heard afterward.”

Dayton Daily News-May 12, 1996

Handel’s Terpsichore, Dallas Bach Society, Dallas, TX

“But what made the music seem to rise to a new dimension were the performances of Ms. Turocy, as Terpsichore, and Steven Rickards, the countertenor who sang in the register alto castrato. Mr. Rickards made a magnificent Apollo-panniered, plumed, powdered and glittering in gold. His rich serene voice perfectly matched his outrageous exterior. With one hand on an orb and the other floating in the air at his chest, he bobbled sweetly on golden heels and opened his mouth to float exquisitely modeled sounds.

The Dallas Morning News- September 29, 1996

Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Dayton Bach Society, OH

“Countertenor Steven Rickards performed the alto part with an expressiveness that defied earthly bounds,”

Dayton Daily News- October 28, 1996

Williamsburg Baroque Music Festival, Capriole, Williamsburg, VA

“Gayle Johnson, director of the festival, led Capriole in “Odes to Life and Death,” pieces written by Purcell for Queen Mary’s birthdays and at her death. Countertenors Derek Lee Ragin and Steven Rickards excelled in florid songs and duets. The small group of instruments provided support and contrast. John Blow’sOde on the Death of Mr. Henry Purcell was a fitting close to the program, the sections of which displayed Capriol’s multiple talents and were an appropriate reflection of Purcell’s own many-sided musical personality.”

Early Music America-Winter 1995

Handel’s Messiah, Apollo’s Fire, Cleveland, OH

“In place of a female alto, countertenor Steven Rickards made a splendid impression, affording the coloratura passages plenty of dramatic punch (and none of the hootines sometimes associated with this voice type) as well as tenderness when Handel becomes reflective.”

The Plain Dealer-December 10, 1995

An Afternoon With Mr. Henry Purcell, Ensemble Ouabache, Indianapolis, IN

“Ensemble Ouabache got the jump on composer anniversary celebrations for 1995 with a charming program called An Afternoon With Mr. Henry Purcell�.

This celebration was in expert hands here: Ensemble Ouabache has cultivated the field of Baroque music for many years, and its guest, Steven Rickards is among today’s most accomplished artists in his voice category�the countertenor, or male alto�

The singer displayed his impeccable technique in the florid long lines of Purcell’s Sweeter Than Roses. And his fine diction helped convey the meaning of the slightly risqu� Scots air Cold and Raw, a hit with Queen Mary.”

Indianapolis Star-January 16, 1995

Bach’s Mass in B Minor, The Bach Ensemble, Mostly Mozart Festival,� New York, NY

“Rickards revealed a dulcet, flexible instrument in his “Qui Sedes,” with Stephen Hammer on oboe d’amore, and a melting “Agnus Dei.”

New York Native-August 8, 1994

Duet Recital with Derek Lee Ragin, Capriole, Williamsgurg, VA

“The concert was highlighted by the presence of two of the most outstanding countertenors in the music world, Derek Lee Ragin and Steven Rickards. Combined with Capriole’s outstanding instrumentalists and unerring sense of musical right, the program was as fine as you could want.”

The Virginia Gazette-March 13, 1993

Bach’s Mass in B Minor, The Bach Ensemble, New York, NY

“The glories of the performance were two of the soloists�Steven Rickards, whose “Agnus Dei” acted as a reproach to the inflexible character of the performance.”

The New York Times-April 3, 1993

Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, Virginia Symphony, Norfolk, VA:

” The only truly embracing moment came from the brief but beautiful contribution made by Steven Rickards, guest countertenor, in the Psalm 23 section. Given his pure focused tone and delivery, it’s not surprising that his acclaim is international. His participation in this program was a treat.”

The Virginia Gazette-September 27,1992

Bach’s Cantata BWV 185, Basically Bach, Chicago, IL:

“With his pleasing timbre, clarity of projection and keen response to the words and music, Rickards again impressed as one of the ablest countertenors around.”

Chicago Tribune-March 30, 1992



“Steven Rickards has one of the finest countertenor voices I have heard, and he outsings his other male counterparts in the alto arias. He is spectacular both in range and power.”

American Record Guide

“Steven Rickards was a standout. His unique, plaintive vocal timbre and superb musicianship were the essence of great singing.”

Miami Herald

“With his pleasing timbre, clarity of projection and keen response to words and music, Rickards again impressed as one of the ablest countertenors around.”

Chicago Tribune