Directors



Dr. Stephen Cook
Founder, Artistic Director


Passionate about community outreach and cultural development, Cook founded the Oracle Piano Society in 2012. He brings together an impressive Artist Advisory Committee, empowers a passionate Board of Directors, and inspires an outpouring of local support. As a pianist, Cook has been seen on television broadcasts and heard on the radio airwaves. He has concertized throughout the United States and abroad to popular and critical acclaim and his skills and interpretations as a concert pianist have earned him distinguished awards, including scholarships and top prizes in both national and international piano competitions. He has wowed the toughest of music critics such as Harold Shonberg from the New York Times who told Cook "Don't try to impress me, I'm not easily impressed." But after the performance of the E-flat minor Scherzo of Brahms, Shonberg simply stated, "I'm impressed" and went on to hail Cook's interpretation of this rarely performed work as the only one that had ever convinced him.

Acclaimed for his dynamic approach to concertizing, Dr. Cook emphasizes artistic fusion with synergistic performances integrating piano, poetry, and the visual arts. A student of luminary pianists Robert Hamilton and Eteri Andjaparidze, Cook attended DePaul University, Northwestern University, and Arizona State University where he received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree. 


 

Elaine Helzer
Chairman
Special Program Manager, 
Community Concerts
 

Elaine Helzer received her degree at the University of California in San Diego.  Starting her career as a concert artist she left to teach privately in her studio.  Elaine taught for 16 years in San Diego and after moving to Oracle, Arizona continued her teaching career for 31 years.  She continues to teach privately with Piano and Voice in Elaine’s Music Studio located in Oracle, AZ. The focus is on reading, rhythm and theory bringing each student to the peak of their ability.  Her students include all ages.  She brings her love of music to the forefront while bringing out the best from everyone.

Elaine is also an accomplished artist in Southwest and Wildlife realism in oil. Elaine has been painting since the ‘70’s with many canvases in private collections throughout the United States.  She taught art for many years but now focuses on painting privately. 

The O.W.N. organization (Oracle Women’s Network) recognizes Elaine as a charter member having helped start the organization 5 years ago.  The O.W.N. are Women owned businesses throughout the tri-community with their focus on growing and improving their individual businesses.  She was also President of a Civitan group and Director of C.P.G.D. Elaine worked with the Oracle Community Center for a few years.  She loves to be in organizations that help other people. 


 

Rachel Opinsky
Secretary
Special Program Manager,
Visual Arts Programs


Rachel Opinsky, an Arizona native moved to Oracle with her husband Michael in 2005 after retiring from the teaching profession in Tempe. Holding a Masters of Elementary Education degree and undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education, she taught both preschool and elementary education. She also mentored and taught College of Education undergraduate students. Rachel is an active member of two auxiliary boards with the Oracle Fire Department. She is a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) member and Co-chairs the Oracle Firewise Board. She is also a member of the Pinal County Triad Group on Senior Citizens and the Disabled. Rachel enjoys outdoor activities such as gardening, river rafting, camping and hiking and is a watercolorist.



Kathy Blacic
Treasurer
 
Kathy moved to Oracle in 2015 after retiring from the Oregon Department of Education.  Kathy has a BS in Accounting and 25 years of experience in finance and accounting in both the private and public sector.   She enjoys singing with the Voice in the Oaks Chorale and the Oracle Union Church choir.  She also enjoys hiking and serves as treasurer for the Friends of Oracle State Park.   Kathy is an active realtor and Army veteran.

Dr. Coralee Thompson,
Director 

 
Music has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. Those early memories include sitting next to my sister while she played our evening worship hymns, trying to hold pennies atop my hands during my first piano lessons, singing special music for church, and secretly wanting to sing pop or Broadway. During high school, I sang in 4 groups, played flute in the band, and organized various events related to musical performances. As a young mother, I took my two sons through the Suzuki violin method. For the past 10 years, I’ve played my friend’s original music who nudged me through the process of making an album. I first learned about the OPS when a local friend told me about Voices in the Oaks. Mary Huebner accepted my request to join the chorus very late in the season. It was a thrill to be a part of this magical little chorus. I then attended Steven Cook’s roaring 20s concert. I couldn’t believe that our small town could have such a gold mine of musical artistry. My professional training is in medicine, but my avocations include singing, playing piano and flute, gardening, cooking, exercising, and just helping out. I have learned that my language of love is service. I’m honored to serve on this visionary board.


Sarah Meade Hardin, Director 
 

My early musical sensitivities we are based on nursery rhymes and songs, camp songs, and classical music. I took piano lessons as a child and sang folk songs and played guitar in high school. Because I had music-playing older siblings, I went to concerts (orchestral) from a very young age. Still do.


While working full time as a Registered Nurse, I sang in church groups and did a lot of musical theater. However, I raised a child who played violin and Scottish fiddle back in the 80s, and when I turned 60, 10 years ago, I decided to start playing fiddle, specifically to play the Scottish fiddle tunes that I loved.


I love live music, and my desire to share this has led to my support of the Oracle piano society and OrCA.


Sarah Hardin  BA (anthropology), BSN


The Oracle Piano Society is a tax exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.