James Baker

Producer, Host: Classics a la Carte

James first introduced himself to KPAC listeners at midnight on April 8, 1993, presenting Dvorak's 7th Symphony played by the Cleveland Orchestra. Soon after, he became the regular overnight announcer on KPAC.

If pressed to describe himself, James will say he is a musician who hosted classical music.  For over 40 years, he has worked as a professional French horn player, holding posts in the Austin Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Orquesta Filarmonica de la Ciudad de Mexico, Orquesta Sinfonica del Estado de Mexico, and Orquesta Sinfonica de Xalapa, the oldest orchestra in Mexico. 

James also is an avid marathoner.  Look for him running the streets of San Antonio with his three rescued border collies.

Ways to Connect

Sam Arlen

The KPAC series of more than a decade ago, "The Art of American Popular Song," followed a blueprint laid out by the composer and writer Alec Wilder.

Biography.com

Unlike Jerome Kern and Harold Arlen, who wrote their songs with numerous collaborative lyricists, and not at all like Irving Berlin and Cole Porter, who preferred doing it all themselves, writing both the music and the words, Richard Rodgers was most comfortable, and most successful, when in partnership with another. Over the course of his long and storied career in musical theater and beyond, Rodgers enjoyed two important partnerships.

American musical theater is not all fluff with no bite. In fact, the 1930s saw a maturity coming to the genre. George Gershwin and George Kaufman brought biting satire to the musical stage with "Of Thee I Sing." This, in turn, opened the gates for other socially informed shows, such as Harold Rome's "Pins and Needles," a show produced off and on Broadway by members of The Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.

The current reprise of "The Art of American Popular Song" on KPAC, KTXI, and online at TPR.ORG is presented as a parallel to the current exhibition at the McNay Art Museum's Brown Gallery - "Broadway: 100 Years of Musical Theatre." This "video prelude," in three parts, focuses on intersections of the radio series and the McNay exhibit. The three short videos, preludes to The Art of Cole Porter,  spotlight artwork by Joseph Urban, Don Jensen, Rouben TerArutunian, and Martin Pakledinaz, all hanging at the McNay's Brown Gallery through June 18.

Gift of Robert L. B. Tobin TL1999.89 / The McNay

Remember the kid in elementary school, maybe junior high (I'm showing my age), who always sat in class drawing pictures? I recall those people and how I wondered what in the world they were going to do with their lives. Sure, I wished I could draw like they did, but I always knew that if I were to make anything of myself I needed to pay attention in class and do my assignments.

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