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.
Dr. Coralee Thompson,
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.
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.
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
John Blair, Director
I discovered Oracle while on a bike ride years ago. There was no question where I wanted to live. My family and I were able to find our place in this mountain setting and have really come to enjoy our unique community. I served in the US Army for 21 years. Service has always been a part of me. After meeting Dr. Cook, I was extremely impressed with his story. I was taken aback by his vision for enriching lives. We are fortunate to have someone of his caliber. From the board members, to many across this community, we have a tremendous amount of talent and human potential to enhance the uniqueness of our mountain village. My youngest is an aspiring musician. Like my mother before her, she has a passion and drive for music performance that is remarkable. It was through my daughter that I met Dr. Cook after the OPS offered a special opportunity for her and her school orchestra to perform in Oracle. I saw this as an experience for myself to serve. Excellence in this endeavor takes involvement from each of us, and I saw myself in it. Although I have no training in any of the arts, I have an appreciation for the skill. It takes hard work and passion for artists to display their work for the enjoyment of others. My desire is to make a positive impact with the OPS while involving and exposing as many of our talented citizens (artist or not) in what Dr. Cook is striving to accomplish.
Shelley McEwan, Director
I am excited to have the opportunity to serve on the board of the Oracle Piano Society. I came to Oracle two years ago to visit old friends whom I had known over 50 years. I had spent much of the prior 10 years going between Sun Valley, Idaho, and Comox, BC. I had recently sold the home in Sun Valley and was planning to live somewhere in the Southwest. Oracle offered a rich combination of a small community, art and music opportunities, interesting people and easy access to the outdoors and to Tucson.
My musical background has been more as audience member than participant. From the time I was small, Gilbert and Sullivan and Broadway musical records were mainstays (my mother was English) as was singing folk music with a neighbor playing the guitar and my mother playing the accordion. The town had a strong community concert series, and I had a seat up front near the tympani. I played the bagpipes briefly in high school with the local pipe band. Several times I started to learn to play the piano, but I never stuck with it. Three years ago I started to play the flute—much more portable—and I love it.
When I was working, I was a lawyer with legal aid and later for a Northern California county. I specialized in child welfare and ultimately served as a juvenile court judge.
I believe that music is a wonderful way to bring people together. I have been impressed by the wonderful concerts we have in Oracle as well as the Chamber Music Festival. I hope to contribute to the sustainability and continued excellence of ORCA in providing access to the arts in Oracle.