Dr. Hilkert has extensive experience as a conductor, performer, and educator throughout North America, Asia, and Europe. She has conducted professional orchestras, bands, opera productions, choruses, and music festivals in Minneapolis; St. Paul; San Francisco; Boston; Washington, D.C.; Shanghai, Beijing, and Xiamen, China; Sapporo, Japan; and Larnaca, Cyprus. She studied conducting with Mark Russell Smith, Kathy Saltzman Romey, Michael Morgan, Alastair Neale, Guoyong Zhang, and Xiaoyin Zhen. She has had advanced conducting study with Marin Alsop, Fabio Luisi, Michael Tilson Thomas, Colin Metters, Paul Nadler, Vance George, John Nelson, Eugene Corporon, and Jack Stamp.
As a conductor, Dr. Hilkert has led numerous performances of symphonic masterworks, new music, full operas, choral music, ballet music, and both conducted and performed concerti from the keyboard. A proponent of new music, her final doctoral recital performance was Chen Yi’s Symphony No. 2, which integrates Chinese folk melodies and rhythmic motives with the use of Western instruments imitating traditional Chinese instruments. The composer herself spoke highly of the performance: “I was deeply touched when I listened to your fantastic and powerful performance...It is so important for music to have heart and deep expression!”
In previous assignments, Dr. Hilkert served as Artistic Director of the Minhua Chorus, developing the local Chinese community’s cultural heritage and identity in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul. She hosted international artists and musicians and brought recitals to numerous communities and schools. Under her leadership, the Minhua Chorus earned grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and Metropolitan Arts Council. Dr. Hilkert was also the Co-Director of the University of Minnesota Campus Orchestras, where she recruited nearly 200 (non-music major) students to participate in three orchestras every semester. She also served as contract Score Reader/Assistant Producer for the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra for over two years. At the University of Minnesota, Dr. Hilkert also assisted and conducted the Symphony Orchestra, supervised and led the Summer Orchestra, and prepared and conducted several Opera Theater productions. Before Twin Cities’ appointments, she served as the Assistant Conductor to the Opera Institute of Boston University and the Symphony Orchestra. In 2013, she directed two opera projects, “Trouble in Tahiti” and “Don Giovanni” with her co-founded chamber orchestra and the Conservatory opera singers in San Francisco, and won the Honorable Mention of the year in Opera Division at The American Prize in Conducting Competition. In her earlier career, she served as the Assistant Conductor to the Shanghai Opera House Orchestra and Chorus, Conducting Adjunct Faculty in the Conducting Department of the Shanghai Conservatory, and conducted the score to the 2014 film, Breaking Limit.
Dr. Hilkert has worked with ensembles including but not limited to the Minnesota Chorale, the Oratorio Society of Minnesota, The U.S. Army Band “The Pershing’s Own”, The U.S. Army Field Band and the Soldiers’ Chorus, The U.S. Air Force Band, the Boston University Symphony Orchestra, the National Music Festival Symphony Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Symphony Orchestra, the Pacific Music Festival Symphony Orchestra, the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra, the Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra, the Central Philharmonic Orchestra of China, the Shanghai Philharmonic Symphony, and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra.
She is married to fellow conductor Captain Adam K. Hilkert, U.S. Army Bands, and together they have two sons, Gavin and Lionel.
- Double Bachelors of Arts in Piano Performance and Audio Engineering, Shanghai Conservatory of Music
- Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting, Shanghai Conservatory of Music
- Master of Music in Instrumental Conducting, San Francisco Conservatory of Music
- Doctor of Musical Arts in Orchestral Conducting, University of Minnesota