Through his solo recitals and performances, pianist and Arizona native Dr. Stephen Cook has performed nationwide as well as abroad to popular and critical acclaim.
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.
Cook has performed in major cities including New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. In addition, he has concertized in Italy and Japan. His performances have been televised on such programs as WTTW's "Chicago Tonight" and on South Bend Indiana Public Television's Documentary "Kicking the Notes the Toradze Way." He has also been heard on KBAQ Classical Radio, Phoenix, and WFMT Radio, Chicago.
Dr. Cook is known for expanding the possibilities of the traditional piano recital and blurring the boundaries between the expressive arts. His innovative presentations pair music with visual art, poetry, film, cuisine, and even wine. Some of his performance projects include Picturing Rachmaninoff, a book/recording, multimedia performance, and one-man-show based on Sergei Rachmaninoff's Etudes-Tableaux, Op. 39; Ravel Phantasmagoria, a presentation of Maurice Ravel's piano music in conjunction with silent film clips and poetry readings; Ravel Soirée, a wine tasting concert featuring poetry readings and the music of Maurice Ravel; Brahmsphantasie, a chamber music concert featuring the music of Johannes Brahms and the artwork of Max Klinger, and the Celestial Concert, a performance of celestial music presented in conjunction with astrophotography of Adam Block.
He has received many awards recognizing his accomplishments with scholarships and top prizes in national and international competitions including 1st Prize at the Klatzkin Contemporary Music Competition, Phoenix; 1st Prize at the Beverly Hills National Auditions, 1st Prize North Shore Musicians Club Competition, Chicago; 1st Prize at DePaul University's Concerto Competition; 1st Prize at the National Society of Arts and Letters Piano Competition Southwest Region; 1st Prize Arizona State University Concerto Competition; and 1st Prize at the Yamaha/Sherman Clay Young Artists Piano Competition, Phoenix. He is also a prize winner at the Jacob Flier International Piano Competition in New Paltz, New York, semi-finalist in the Tbilisi International Piano Competition, and prize winner at the National Society of Arts and Letters National Piano Competition.
Cook has studied in masterclasses with Vladimir Feltsman, Alexander Toradze, Alexander Slobodyanik, Paul Ostrovsky, and Philip Kawin.
A student of luminary pianists Ursula Oppens, Robert Hamilton, and Eteri Andjaparidze, Cook trained at DePaul University, Northwestern University, and Arizona State University where he earned his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree.
Passionate about community outreach and cultural development, Cook has brought together an impressive Artist Advisory Committee, empowered a passionate Board of Directors, and inspired an outpouring of local support to found the Oracle Piano Society in 2012. As the Society's Artistic Director, Cook has established an annual concert series, an annual chamber music festival, the Oracle Piano Quartet, a festival of new music, and a performing arts venue called Oracle Center for the Arts.