James Baker

Contributing Writer

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.  He has held the Principal Horn position in the Mid Texas Symphony for the past 20 years.

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

James was the long-time host of Itinerarios, a weekly program of music with Latin-American roots, Listener's Choice, KPAC's request show, and for over 10 years co-hosted with Ron Moore Alternate Routes, KPAC's program of contemporary music.

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Arts & Culture
7:58 pm
Sun April 14, 2013

RIP Sir Colin Davis

Sir Colin Davis (1927-2013)
Credit simple.wikipedia.com

I remember as yesterday my first substantial introduction to the art of Colin Davis. The cycle of Sibelius Symphonies he recorded with the Boston Symphony Orchestra was outstanding, enhanced further by the art work, drawn from the paintings of Edvard Munch. The music world reacted much as I had, declaring Sir Colin an authoritative interpreter of Sibelius. He came back to the cycle at least twice afterwards, making studio recordings with the London Symphony Orchestra and then a cycle of concert recordings with the LSO.

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Arts & Culture
1:41 am
Tue April 9, 2013

Maria Schneider: Bridging the Jazz-Classical Divide

Maria Schneider
Red Back Press

  Maria Schneider has emerged over the past several decades as one of our most original composers and arrangers for jazz orchestra. She studied music theory and composition at the University of Minnesota, graduating in 1983, then earned a Masters of Music in 1985 from the Eastman School of Music, studying for one year as well at the University of Miami.

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KPAC Blog:
4:11 am
Sun March 31, 2013

Ana Cervantes: Musical Midwife

Ana Cervantes
Ana Cervantes

Critics consider Ana Cervantes –daughter of a Nebraska (USA) mother and a Mexican father– “a physical, emotional performer, with extraordinary touch and mastery of tone and colour”; an artist of “commanding intensity,” “great interpretive qualities and enormous passion”.

Her special ability to function as interlocutor between cultures, her charismatic stage presence and imaginative programming which embraces both contemporary and traditional repertoires, have earned her the accolade “ambassadress for the music of Mexico”.

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Arts & Culture
4:18 pm
Sat March 30, 2013

Irving Berlin's Holiday Big Three

Irving Berlin
Credit Wikimedia Commons

 Irving Berlin is one of those who could easily have written a couple of songs, then retired to fame and great wealth. But like most highly creative people, his life was one of ceaseless creation, to the very end. Among his more than 900 songs are three which might be described as his Holiday Big Three: “God Bless America,” “White Christmas,” and “Easter Parade."

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SXSW Film Festival
1:02 am
Tue March 26, 2013

SXSW 2013 Review: "The Other Shore"

Courtesy Photo

Diana Nyad is an athlete obsessed, but what's so unusual about that? Athletes are supposed to be obsessed. But to say Diana Nyad is a woman obsessed, now that's what makes her story so compelling, even worthy of a movie. And that movie was recently given several special screenings at SXSW.

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KPAC Blog
12:39 am
Fri March 22, 2013

Is Gabriela Ortiz's "Camelia La Tejana" An Opera Or Documentary?

Gabriela Ortiz
Gabriela Ortiz

The Mexican composer Gabriela Ortiz has found a great deal of success with her varied catalog of work. To try to define it in only a paragraph, or two, would be unfair and probably impossible. Likewise, her work defies any attempt to be pigeon-holed into a nationalistic or ethnic box. Yes, some of the catalog reflects her Mexican roots. But other titles speak in a musical language which should only be described as contemporary.

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Arts & Culture
5:40 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Oboist Ray Still: Still Keen on Music at 93

  Is there something in the water? Or is it the famous pizza which contributes to the longevity of service by so many of the principal musicians of the famous Chicago Symphony Orchestra? The record must surely belong to trumpeter Adolph Herseth, who held the first trumpet chair for 53 years, extending his tenure another 3 years as principal trumpet emeritus until his retirement in 2004. Then there was Arnold Jacobs, principal tuba with the CSO from 1944 until 1988.

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Arts & Culture
12:06 am
Tue March 5, 2013

Crossing America with Miguel del Aguila

Miguel del Aguila
Miguel del Aguila

  Miguel del Aguila's website describes him as "An internationally recognized compositional voice and talent, Miguel del Aguila creates fresh, spontaneous music often colored by Latin and World Music idioms, and with a healthy respect for the classical tradition and form. What results is a captivating interplay of classical balance and romantic excess.

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KPAC Blog: Texas Musicians
12:21 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

Van Cliburn: A Heart As Big As Texas

Van Cliburn
dallasvoice.com

I first heard Van Cliburn live in 1969. He played a concert at Austin's Municipal Auditorium, a barn of a place, to a sold-out audience. I was, in the vernacular of the time, blown away.

As soon as the concert was over, I rushed down from my balcony seat to wait in the long line of well wishers for my opportunity to have my program autographed. By this time, Mr. Cliburn had actually come down into the audience. He was, in a sense, a man of the people.

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Arts & Culture
12:30 am
Mon February 25, 2013

Wolfgang Sawallisch (1923-2013): RIP

  The music world suffered a significant loss on Friday, February 22, with the passing of the German conductor Wolfgang Sawallisch. He was 89. His resume is beyond reproach. He is likely best known in the US through his 10 years as the Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra (he succeeded Riccardo Muti and was subsequently succeeded by Christoph Eschenbach). His remarkable career covered more than half a century.

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