Foster became the conductor of the San Francisco Ballet at the age of 18, and served as Assistant Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta. He has held music directorships with the Houston Symphony, the Ojai Music Festival, the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, and the Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya in Spain. In late 1989, Foster had been reported as the next Music Director of the Pacific Symphony of Orange County, California. However, in February 1990, the offer was rescinded, and Foster never held this post.
Since 2002, Foster has been the music director of the Gulbenkian Orchestra of Lisbon. He served as music director of the Orchestre National de Montpellier and the Opéra National de Montpellier from 2009 to 2012. In February 2012, Foster was announced as the next music director of l'Opéra de Marseille and the Orchestre philharmonique de Marseille, beginning in September 2012, with an initial contract of 4 years.
Foster has recorded a number of discs for PENTATONE, including Gordon Getty's opera Usher House, Schumann's symphonies, orchestral works by Kodaly, Bartok and Ligeti, and piano and violin concertos by Bruch, Korngold, Rachmaninov, Grieg and Chopin, with various soloists.
- Fantasies, Rhapsodies and Daydreams. Works by Camille Saint-Saëns, Maurice Ravel, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Pablo de Sarasate, Jules Massenet. Arabella Steinbacher, Lawrence Foster, Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo PENTATONE PTC 5186536 (2016).
- Max Bruch & Erich Korngold Violin Concertos & Ernest Chausson Poème. Arabella Steinbacher, Lawrence Foster, Gulbenkian Orchestra PENTATONE PTC 5186503 (2013)
- Gordon Getty - Usher House. Etienne Dupuis, Phillip Ens, Lisa Delan, Christian Elsner, Lawrence Foster, Benedict Cumberbatch, Gulbenkian Orchestra. PENTATONE PTC 518645 (2013).
- Johann Strauss Jr. - Der Zigeunerbaron (Operetta in 3 Acts; version 1886). Nikolai Schukoff, Jochen Schmeckenbecher, Markus Brück, Jasmina Sakr, Claudia Barainsky, Heinz Zednik, Paul Kaufmann, Khatuna Mikaberidze, Renate Pitscheider, Lawrence Foster, NDR Philharmonie, NDR Chor. PENTATONE PTC 5186482 (2016).
- Rachmaninov & Grieg - Piano Concertos Sa Chen, Lawrence Foster, Gulbenkian Orchestra. PENTATONE PTC 5186444 (2011).
- Antonio Salieri Requiem in C minor, Beethoven Meeresstille und Glückliche Fahrt, Schubert Intende voci. Lawrence Foster, Coro Gulbenkian, Gulbenkian Orchestra PENTATONE PTC 5186359 (2010).
- Zoltán Kodály, Béla Bartók, György Ligeti - Orchestral Works. Lawrence Foster, Mihaela Costea, Esther Georgie, Cyril Dupuy, Jonathan Luxton, Kenneth Best, Gulbenkian Orchestra. PENTATONE PTC 5186360 (2010).
- Robert Schumann - Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4. Lawrence Foster, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. PENTATONE PTC 5186327 (2009).
- Robert Schumann - Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2. Lawrence Foster, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. PENTATONE PTC 5186326 (2008).
- Frédéric Chopin - The 2 Piano Concertos. Sa Chen, Lawrence Foster, Gulbenkian Orchestra. PENTATONE PTC 5186341 (2008).
- Chute, James (February 9, 1990). "Pacific Symphony rescinds offer to hire Monte Carlo conductor". The Orange County Register.
- Chris Pasles (1990-02-10). "Pacific Symphony Dropped Offer, Foster Says : Music: Conductor tells of breakdown in negotiations over salary and rehearsal time". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-02-18.
- "Aspen Music Festival Appoints New Director". New York Times. 1990-08-17.
- "Le chef d'orchestre Lawrence Foster à la tête du Philharmonique de Marseille". L'Express. 2012-02-03. Retrieved 2012-02-18.
- "Lawrence Foster". pentatonemusic. Retrieved 2016-12-08.
- Harrison Parrott agency biography
- Lawrence Foster on IMDb
- Mark Swed, "Lawrence Foster at 70". Los Angeles Times, "Culture Monster" blog, 21 October 2011
- "Lawrence Foster appointed Music Director of Orchestre Philharmonique de Marseille". Harrison Parrott agency release, 7 February 2012