Koen Wilmaers started his music career at the age of 7 at the music academy of Tienen. He then studied percussion and piano at the Lemmens Institute in Leuven. He completed his studies with the higher diploma Percussion and Master in Music degree, both with the highest distinction. As a laureate in various competitions, including the Competition of the Gemeentekrediet and Tenuto, he cooperated in numerous radio and television recordings.
He has played in numerous prominent orchestras and ensembles, including the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Brussels Radio Philharmonic (Flemish Radio Orchestra), La Monnaie Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the Flemish Opera, Beethoven Academy, Belgian National Orchestra, I Solisti del Vento, Il Novecento, I Fiamminghi, Prometheus Ensemble, St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra, Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra ...
From 1993 to 2009 he held the position of solo timpanist (leader) of the Philharmonie (Antwerp Symphony Orchestra).
He has played with numerous conductors including: Philippe Herreweghe, Jaap Van Zweden, Jan Caeyers, Daniele Callegari, Grant Llewellyn, Muhai Tang, Gunther Neuhold, Peter Eötvös, Martyn Brabbins, Michael Schönwandt, Walter Weller, Lothar Zagrosek, Rudolf Barshai, Frank Shipway, George Benjamin, Yutaka Sado,Andrey Boreyko, Jos Van Immerseel, Kenneth Montgomery, Jansug Kakhidze, Sakari Orami, Tan Dun, Sigiswald Kuijken, Peter Rundel, Pinchas Steinberg, Stefan Soltesz, Antonio Pappano…
Concert tours brought him to Germany, Austria, Italy, France, The Netherlands, Spain and Japan. He played in the Musikverein and the Konzerthaus in Vienna, the Festspielhaus in Salzburg, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Suntory Hall and the Bunka Kaikan Hall in Tokyo, the Philharmonie in Cologne and Munich, the Alte Oper in Frankfurt, the Auditoria Nacional de Musica in Madrid, the Théatre des Champs-Elysées in Paris and many more.
With the Flanders Royal Philharmonic Orchestra he made various CD and television recordings. A selection from the oeuvre: Carl Orff’s complete Trilogy (live performance Frankfurt), Beethoven: all symphonies (conducted by Philippe Herreweghe) (recording of Canvas), Sjostakovitsj Symphony 5 (conducted by Jaap Van Zweden), Brahms Piano Concerto’s 1+2, Wim Henderick, Raga’s, Goeyvaerts, Aquarius, Brewaeys, Orkestwerken, Bert Joris, Dangerous Liaison (+Brussels Jazz Orchestra)…
He is currently timpanist of the international orchestra "Le Concert Olympique", led by Jan Caeyers. With this orchestra he is, among other things, a regular guest at the Philharmonie in Berlin.
He also made various radio and TV recordings as a soloist, including Concerto for Marimba and Vibraphone, Darius Milhaud with the Flemish Radio Orchestra, TV recording (conducted by Fréderic De Vreese), Concerto for Marimba, Ney Rosauro with the Philharmonie (conducted by Koen Kessels), Sonata for 2 pianos and percussion, Béla Bartok with the Philharmonic recording Klara (conducted by Daniele Callegari) Auftakte, Mauricio Kagel with Prometheus Ensemble, recording Concertzender Amsterdam..
Koen has been working with Carlo Willems in chamber music for many years. They were guests at festivals such as:
Lesson 4 Saisons de Bruxelles (with Margaretha Argerich and Pollina Leschenko) November Music Festival (NL) (with Jan Michiels and Inge Spinette) Saintes Festival (FR), Bartok Happening (the Singel) (with Levente Kende and Nicolas Kende), OdeGand (Ghent) (with the production 'Slag') ...
Together with Carlo Willems and actor Hubert Damen, he toured throughout Flanders with the theatre production ‘Tango Van Het Blote Kontje’.
As a jury member, he is often asked at home and abroad. He has been a guest at the International Ensemble and Soloist Contest in Kerkrade, among others, and as a teacher he has been invited by The Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre.
Since 1995 he has been affiliated with the Royal Flemish Music Conservatory of Antwerp. Here he teaches percussion, orchestral literature and chamber music. He also conducts the percussion ensemble
Additionally Koen Wilmaers teaches at the music academy of Tienen (ART) and De!Kunsthumaniora Antwerp