Lukas Foss, conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic throughout my grade school years, died this past week. He was a brave soul who will best be remembered for his new music compositions and quirky mad-scientist personality among those who knew him. He was introducing audiences to what we now call “new music” as far back as I can remember, when it wasn’t very hip or palatable to be listening to anything other than Elvis and The Beatles. He stood his ground and was relentless in his zeal, drive and passion. The world finally caught on in the last ten years, at least here in LA, and now new music concerts at Walt Disney Concert Hall sell out quickly.
I had the chance to work with him once in Buffalo and again here in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Bowl one summer, playing “Phorion”, a piece of his that was a wild fantasia of stolen Bach quotations that included an electric guitar, electric organ, harpsichord and strings.
Lukas was a giant precursor to the current fervor and uniquely dedicated to furthering the expansion of our minds and ears.