Kris Defoort

Piano / Composer


Kris Defoort studied recorder and early music at the Antwerp Conservatory (Barthold Kuijken, Koen Dieltiens, Jos Van Immerseel, Balderick Deerenberg) and jazzpiano, composition and free improvisation at the Liège Conservatory (Dennis Luxion, Frederic Rzewsky, Garrett List, Philippe Boesmans).

Between 1987 and 1990 Kris Defoort lived in New York. He followed master classes with Fred Hersh, David Berger and Paul Bley, but his main activity was as a jazz pianist. He performed with the Lionel Hampton Big Band (guest Dizzy Gillespie), Jack de Johnette, Adam Nussbaum, Reggie Workman, Mike Formanek, Barry Altschul, Vince Herring, Judy Niemack, Tito Puento, Lee Konitz, Hannibal Peterson, and many others.

After his return to Belgium he continued on his musical odyssey, as a composer, pianist and improvisor, and leader of the sextet KD's Basement Party, his trio KD's Decade, Octurn, Dreamtime and more recently Sound Plaza (with Mark Turner, Jim Black and Nicolas Thys). Partly thanks to the support of the arts centre De Werf (Bruges), lots of his projects were issued on cd.

Kris Defoort also worked with performers and ensembles in the contemporary jazz scene (Jim Black, mark Turner, AKA Moon, Vegetable Beauty, Garrett List, Paul Rodgers, Han Benninck etc.)

Since 1998 Kris Defoort is a resident composer at LOD (Ghent), a production house for contemporary music theatre. Together with Fatou Traoré he created the dance piece Passages (2001) which was performed at several leading European festivals (Festival d’Avignon, Salzburg, Charleroi Danse, etc.)

At the end of 2001 Kris Defoort was commissioned by LOD, Ro theater, deSingel, La Monnaie and others, to compose the opera The Woman Who Walked into Doors, based on Roddy Doyle’s book of the same name. This opera, directed by Guy Cassiers, toured impressively in Europe (Duisburg, Ruhrtriennale, Paris, Strassbourg, Brussels, Dublin, Zürich, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Antwerp,…) and was received with great enthousiasm by both press and public.

In 2002 Kris Defoort created Conversations with the Past, a work for wind instruments, piano, harp, double bass and percussion, commissioned by the Filharmonie (Antwerp). In the same year he presented Sound Plaza, a new jazz cd with saxophonist Mark Turner, bass player Nic Thys and drummer Jim Black.

In 2003 he created his String quartet n°1 together with ConVerSations/ConSerVations, a project based on Renaissance music. Together with soprano Claron McFadden, Dreamtime and Quatuor Danel, Kris Defoort sought once again a synthesis between old and new, classical and jazz.

Since 2005 Kris Defoort has worked on various projects. As an artist in residence at the arts centre BOZAR in the 2006-2007 season, every aspect of his musicianship has been shown: as an improvising pianist and a composer. For example, Jan Michiels created his piano cycle Dedicatio (nine musical letters)in December 2006. Kris Defoort also has been commissioned by the 2007 Queen Elizabeth Competition to write the compulsory contest piece for solo piano: Dedicatio 6; Treasure of Emotions (to Keith Jarrett)

On the 8th of May 2009 the world premiere of his second opera House of the Sleeping Beauties (production LOD, Toneelhuis, la Monnaie), directed by Guy Cassiers, took place at La Monnaie Brussels.

In 2010 Kris Defoort is working on Brodsky Concerts, a piece based on the writings by Joseph Brodsky, in which he will be on stage together with the actor Dirk Roofthooft.

Commissioned by Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and LOD, Kris Defoort is also preparing a new opera  together with writer/stage director Wajdi Mouawad. The premiere will take place in July 2013. Meanwhile, Kris Defoort keeps performing as an improviser/pianist meeting various artists, and is touring with his own trio (Nicolas Thys/bass, Lander Gyselinck/drums).