Gordon Hilker

John Gordon Hilker, impresario, producer, administrator (born 19 September 1913 in Vancouver, BC; died 4 April 1991)

John Gordon Hilker, impresario, producer, administrator (born 19 September 1913 in Vancouver, BC; died 4 April 1991). Hilker’s mother was a music teacher and he studied piano for some 12 years. He graduated with a Communications degree from the University of British Columbia in 1934, and in 1936 he brought Martha Graham and her dancers to Vancouver. In 1937, he initiated the Greater Artists Series and in the late 1930s he incorporated Hilker Attractions, which presented leading artists in Vancouver and, in the later 1940s, throughout Western Canada. It continued to operate until 1950. He negotiated with the Vancouver Parks Board for the use of Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park for a special paid-admission summer concert in 1938, paving the way for Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS). In fact, when TUTS was ready to open in 1940, Hilker's advice was enlisted and he subsequently produced its shows and tours until 1949.

In the 1950s, he was occupied mainly as an organizer of centennial celebrations for Kitchener-Waterloo and St. Thomas, Ontario. He then worked for the Vancouver International Festival as publicity director in 1957, and as general manager from 1958 to 1964 and again in 1968. He was also artistic director from 1964 to 1967 of the World Festival at Expo 67. He left Canada to serve as director of the School of Performing Arts in San Diego from 1968 to 1972, and continued to be associated with the school after that. In 1974, he did the artistic planning for Expo 74 in Spokane, Washington. In 1991, Hilker was living in retirement on Indian Arm, north of Vancouver.

A version of this entry originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.