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November 17, 1982

German-American pianist, composer and conductor Lukas Foss provided “live program notes” for his program in Skinner Hall, presented by the music department in observance of his sixtieth birthday. After a performance of J.S. Bach’s Concerto in D minor BWV 1052 by Mr. Foss and a student quartet drawn from the Vassar Orchestra, the evening turned to Foss’s own compositions, for which, reported Joanne Holiday ’84 in The Miscellany News, “the composer delivered live program notes. Following the March and Andante, performed by Todd Crow and Richard Wilson, Foss said these were the first pieces for which he ever got paid. ‘I got fifty dollars,’ he said.

“Foss composed the March and Andante at age 16. Foss said “Music for Six” was[n’t] a typical work since he usually writes for specific instruments ‘It should be a weird array of instruments,’ he said, ‘any six’ Each part alternates between two notes at close intervals, or repeats a pattern of four notes.” The six performers were: Carl Gutowski ’83, flute; Gordon Green ’83, vibraphone; Diane Roberts ’86, mirimba; Todd Crow, piano, College Organist Merellyn Gallagher, piano; and Brian Mann, electric piano.

Foss said his inspiration for “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,“ the poem of the same name by American poet Wallace Stevens, was a “combination of the humorous and the mysterious that interested him. ‘You can’t explain it in rational, logical terms.’“ With Blanca Uribe at the keyboard, Charles Barbour struck the strings of the piano wth mallots, rubbed them with the bottoms of two pyrex bowls or dropped the bowls onto them and scraped the flat side of a metal bell along the the coiled strings. Soprano Carol Wilson closed the piece by singing into a delayed-replay tape recorder, which created a duet with her own echo…. The concert received a standing ovation.”

The Miscellany News

Lukas Foss’s daughter, Eliza, was a member of the Class of 1984.

The Years