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.  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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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. 

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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.

  

It's hard to believe it's been 40 years since Venezuela's El Sistema drew its first breath, but it has. A new compact disc from DG celebrates this 40th anniversary with a collection of 12 tracks drawn from the extensive discography of the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela. The disc is titled “El Sistema 40 – A Celebration.”

Gift of Robert L. B. Tobin. TL1999.244.7

And now we come to fifth and final program in the series The Tobin Collection: A Musical Vision. It has been quite an adventure of learning about this wonderful resource here in our midst. I'm speaking of The Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts at San Antonio's McNay Art Museum. It is the crown jewel of Robert Tobin's lifelong passion for theatre, and for collecting theatre arts. The collection is wide-ranging, but in the aggregate it becomes apparent that Robert Tobin's greatest interest was in opera.

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