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.

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It's a confusion of seasons. Is there any better way to describe Christmas week temperatures in the upper 70s, maybe 80's by Christmas day? How do we explain it? Global warming? Let's not get into that! Why not place the blame on the shoulders of those who write the songs? Here are three songs from the Great American Songbook, each with a confusion of seasons.

Sweat was on the brows of Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne when they wrote their classic “Christmas Waltz.” Diane Berlanga explains.

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. © Sucessio Miro / Artists Right Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris 2015

This week's Modernists at The McNay, Part Four, wraps up the 4-part series which has been exploring parallels between the visual art of Joan Miro (and also a number of the important Cubists) and music. The question addressed to some degree on each program queries the relationship between the visual and audible arts. Can a painting sing? Can music paint a picture? These two questions are addressed today by composer Jim Balentine and surface design artist Jane Dunnewold.

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Matching music with visual art can be a challenge. In some instances the two are intertwined by intention, by design, such that the work is already done. But in the case of providing a sound track to some of the contemporary art displayed at The McNay, specifically the visiting show titled Miro: The Experience of Seeing, and the concurrent exhibition in The McNay's Lawson Print Gallery, titled Picasso, Braque and the Cubist Legacy, one is confronted with the question of whether visual art can sing and, conversely, whether music can paint a picture.

Throughout 2015 the world has been celebrating the 400th anniversary of the publication of Miguel de Cervantes novel, Don Quixote. We've also been celebrating on KPAC's weekly Classics a la Carte, focusing upon a variety of different musical tellings of the many adventures of Don Quixote and his sidekick, Sancho Panza.

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. © Sucessio Miro / Artists Right Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris 2015

The curtain rises on Modernists at The McNay, Part Two with another perspective on the large canvas which greets visitors to the McNay's current headline show, Miro: The Experience of Seeing. Rene Barilleaux, Chief Curator at the McNay, describes what he sees in Miro's Homage to Picasso. We then follow Rene into the next room, coming face-to-face with Woman and Bird in the Night. The question raised here is whether by a simple charcoal inscription of the word "orange" the viewer will "see" a color which isn't really there.

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