Marlies Debacker



photos by Cristina Marx_Photomusix


Marlies Debacker is a Belgian pianist and performer of free improvised music and contemporary classical music, based in Cologne. She does extensive research on the sound possibilities of her instrument with a focus on resonance, pedal work, inside piano playing and the use of various preparations, thus allowing her to move between the conventional sound of a piano and various percussive and pseudo-electronic sounds. Apart from playing the piano she often performs on vintage keyboards – such as Hohner Clavinet D6 – allowing her to add an electronic and microtonal layer to her music. 

In 2016 she founded her own chamber music group with Shiau-Shiuan Hung (percussion) and Salim(a) Javaid (saxophone) – TRIO ABSTRAKT – which is currently being supported and funded by the InSzene program (interpreters scholarship for contemporary music) of the Deutscher Musikrat. Trio Abstrakt collaborates with composers such as Mark Andre, Franck Bedrossian, Peter Ablinger, Isabel Mundry, Hans Thomalla, Marco Momi, Michael Edwards and Clemens Gadenstätter.

As a passionate performer of contemporary music – Debacker performs solo on a regular basis, as well as with various ensembles like Ensemble Musikfabrik, Kammerelektronik, Ensemble Garage, hand werk, Ensemble S201 and Contemporary Insights.

As an active improviser, Marlies performs internationally with her duo Debacker/Javaid, the piano duo Wegmann/Debacker, Debacker/Hübsch/Javaid and many other projects. In 2022, she will release her debut Solo CD with her own improvisations and compositions on Sirulita records.

Marlies is curator of the Plattform Nicht Dokumentierbarer Ereignisse – a concert series for improvised music that has an over 15-year-long tradition in Cologne – and a member of IMPAKT, Cologne’s collective of improvisers. 

Marlies composed and performed the music for two theater works by Frank Castorf: Aus dem bürgerlichen Heldenleben (2020) and MOLIÈRE: Ich bin ein Dämon, Fleisch geworden und als Mensch verkleidet (2022) – at Schauspiel Köln.

She performed at various international festivals such as Biennale del arte Venezia, Moers Festival, IMPULS Graz, PGNM Biennale Aktueller Musik Bremen, Serious Series Berlin, Klangspuren Schwaz, Acht Brücken Köln, Winterjazz Köln and NOW!-Festival Essen.  

Following her bachelor studies at Koninklijk Conservatorium Antwerpen, Debacker studied her masters degree at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln, followed by a masters degree in Contemporary Music at the Folkwang UdK Essen, under Benjamin Kobler (Ensemble Musikfabrik) and Prof. Barbara Maurer (Ensemble Recherche). She took part in numerous masterclasses for contemporary music,  including International Ensemble Modern Academy (IEMA Klangspuren), Impuls Academy and Darmstädter Ferienkurse under the guidance of Nicolas Hodges.

Marlies currently teaches free improvisation and contemporary piano techniques at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln.