For 27 years, Kay Cook has been changing the lives of youth and adults through the rhythmic music of handbells. She is described as a visionary, utilizing her innovative style and unique training techniques to make a difference through the art of handbell ringing. She has proven that new levels of excellence in performance are not only possible, but are thrilling audiences all over the world. As a result of her ingenious training techniques, Desert Bells is known for its precisely synchronized ringing, creative interpretation of compositions, dexterous bell styles, and delightful entertainment and showmanship on stage. Ms. Cook and her Desert Bells' choirs are sought after to perform on many prestigious stages throughout Arizona, the United States, and the world.
Ms. Cook was educated at Eastern Illinois University and Arizona State University. She studies privately with Dr. William A. Payn, Chairman of the Department of Music at Bucknell University and renowned handbell composer. Desert Bells had the honor of premiering one of Dr. Payn’s recent compositions, “Heart Melodies” with the renowned ASU Chamber Orchestra.
As a clinician, Ms. Cook has instructed handbell directors, composers, and ringers from the United States and Europe through Handbell Exploration™ International. These handbell conferences attract professionals and amateurs from around the world who are interested in furthering their knowledge and experience of the art of handbell ringing. Ms. Cook has also, in past years, conducted workshops at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey. Ms. Cook conducted a Masters Class for Handbell Directors at Concordia College, Mequon, Wisconsin during their summer session in 1999 and 2000. Kay has directed festivals and workshops for the The American Guild of English Handbell ringers over the past 25 years.
She has accepted countless invitations as guest conductor for festivals, concerts, symposiums, conventions, and seminars throughout the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Scotland, Germany, France, Belgium, Hungary, Austria, Mexico, Japan, and Australia.
Since 1977, many churches throughout the Valley of the Sun have benefited from Ms. Cook’s work with their handbell choirs, including: First Christian, Camelback Bible, Chaparral Christian, Grace Community, Scottsdale United Church of Christ, St. Barnabas on the Desert, North Phoenix Baptist, and Mountain View Presbyterian.