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

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

The visual art style of Cubism was born between the years 1907 and 1914, breathing first life mostly in Paris, and largely through the efforts of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. As the world began to notice this new way of “seeing,” reaction ranged from dismay to celebration. As other artists began to adapt their work to the new style, both music and theater became infected. Picasso found an ally and a friend in Igor Stravinsky, while Erik Satie pressed the boundaries of music to better reflect the changes in the art world.

They're a keyboard band. No, they are a guitar band. Nope! They're a synth band. Wait! Maybe Snarky Puppy is a big band. The truth is they are all of these and they are none of them. They are unique. An enigma. They are an amalgam of a dozen or more highly individual and accomplished musicians. Beyond what you see on the stage, they are a collective of 40 or more musicians, each player capable of being on the next gig in New York, Chicago, London, Bucharest, or Austin.

Ed. note: TPR's James Baker has a million stories to tell about being a performing musician. In honor of our final Cinema Tuesdays show of the summer, this time he shares a memory of being a fan. 


Those who listen to a lot of music surely know what I mean when I refer to music as a soundtrack. Of course, there's no universal reason why musicians create music, but likely not at the top of the list is an intention to make a soundtrack to the world around them. In fact, some musicians, and even serious listeners to music, would find repellent the idea of music as simple backdrop, perhaps even relegated to audio wallpaper.

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Although his career has been silent for the past quarter century (he last sang in a public performance in 1988), Jon Vickers' name has continued to resonate loudly through his substantial discography. He sang strong roles. He felt an obligation to become the character. If he didn't like the character, or he felt there was something weak about a particular work, he would refuse the role.