Born in Montréal, JOHN HAWKINS studied piano with Lubka Kolessa at the Conservatoire de musique et d’art dramatique. At McGill University, on a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, he was a composition student of Istvan Anhalt. He also attended summer courses at Tanglewood and the conducting seminar of Pierre Boulez in Basel, Switzerland in 1969. As a pianist he took part in performances of over 70 new works with the ensembles of Montréal’s Société de musique contemporaine du Québec and Toronto’s New Music Concerts. In 1977-78 Hawkins held a Canada Council Senior Arts Grant enabling him to live and work for one year in New York City. Hawkins was the 1983 recipient of the (Governor General) Jules Léger Prize for new chamber music.
In 1970 Hawkins joined the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto, where he specializes in the analysis and performance of twentieth-century repertoire and continues to perform as a pianist and conductor. Since 1994 he has organized and participated in a series of Music and Poetry lecture/concerts featuring twentieth-century vocal literature. Over 35 works by 20 different composers have been performed.
Hawkins’ compositions have been performed in the United States, Europe and in most Canadian centres. He has written music for various groups and organizations such as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Nexus, York Winds, New Music Concerts, Société de musique contemporaine (Montréal), Chamber Concerts Canada and the Banff Centre. Recently he has composed several vocal pieces especially for the Music and Poetry series. His catalogue includes over 25 works for various media, as well as arrangements.