Kees Hilhorst completed his violin study at the Rotterdam Conservatory in the Netherlands with Jan Hulst and Benzion Shamir and after spending some years with the Arnhem Philharmonic Orchestra, Kees is now much involved in the Dutch early music scene, and is one of the leaders of the II Concerto Barocco. Always enthusiastic about contemporary music, Kees has worked closely with his fellow colleagues and composers. The Don Banks Trio - a trio with Aljosja Buijs (piano), Helen MacDoughall (horn) and Kees Hilhorst (violin) - founded in 1994, has commissioned many works and in which When suddenly by Iain Matheson for horn trio, is certainly regarded a masterpiece and is performed by many other notable horn trio chamber gruops.
Through Iain Matheson, Kees was introduced to New Zealand composer Lyell Cresswell, and was invited to tour the North Island in January 2007. In the programme were Whira by Cresswell, Zingaro and Lautari by Helen Bowater. In Februrary 2008, Kees organised a concert featuring entirely New Zealand music in Castle Velhorst, Netherlands. This concert included the world premieres of Wedding Music by Lyell Cresswell and On this desperate edge of now by Helen Bowater. Other NZ works featured in this special concert were Pumpkin Massacre by Lyell Cresswell, Aeolian Harp and the entire Meditations on Michelangelo by Jack Body.
In May 2008, Kees moved to Christchurch from Europe. He has given a violin recital at the University of Canterbury with a programme including Whira by Cresswell and composed for the violinist, A Serious Matter by Iain Matheson and Hoe alles oplost by Nico Huijbregts. In September 2008 Kees appeared as a soloist at the NZSO-SOUNZ Readings for Jack Body's violin concerto Meditations on Michelangelo. Currently he is working with Helen Bowater on a new solo violin work and is also involved in a project with artist Philip Trusttum.