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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KPAC Blog: Itinerarios
11:56 pm
Sat December 29, 2012

A Festive Brazilian New Year

Desiree Furoni

A special piece written by Marin Alsop on NPR included a photo of her conducting the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra in a concert on a Brazilian beach. Twenty thousand listeners attended! Wow! An outdoor concert in December?

A look at the latest weather forecasts for points in South America quickly reminds us that it is presently Summertime (and one would hope the livin’ is easy) throughout the Southern Hemisphere.

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KPAC Blog: Itinerarios
3:03 pm
Tue December 25, 2012

Had Enough Christmas Carols? Try Something Different

Credit Amazon.com

Sometimes I think that the endless loop of Christmas songs at the HEB at Wurzbach and I-10 gets stuck and begins repeating the same phrase over and over, like a stuck record. Poor Ella just can't seem to get to the next phrase, and when she does she ends up stuck there.

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KPAC Blog: Itinerarios
8:45 am
Mon December 17, 2012

Interpreting Frida Kahlo (Through Music)

Frida Kahlo self-portrait 1944.
imaginarymuseum.net

Mention Frida Kahlo and we immediately think of the painter and the wide range of self portraits she produced during her troubled -- and at times anguished -- life. A recent recording by the Dublin Drag Orchestra with vocalist Clara Sanabras brings to light another side of Kahlo: occasional poet and writer. "La Vida Callada," ("The Unspoken Life") is included on the recently issued "¡Viva Frida!" from the Heresy record label. This track stands out for its balance of contrast and similarity to what the Dublin Drag Orchestra (DDO) has come to champion - early music.

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Arts & Culture
11:31 am
Sun December 9, 2012

Carlos Franzetti: Modern Tanguero Or Orchestra Master?

Carlos Franzetti.
Carlos Franzetti

The opening lines of Carlos Franzetti's resume pretty much sum it up:

"Composer/conductor Carlos Franzetti's musical range seems to know no limits. Symphonic and chamber works, big band and Latin jazz and film scores have all been the focus of his vast talent."

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Alternate Routes
8:33 am
Wed December 5, 2012

Dublin Drag Orchestra by Way of Alternate Routes

Viva Frida!
Amazon.com

Thanks to my Facebook friend Lauri Pearson for setting me up for today's Alternate Routes. Lauri is a real listener, a true fanatic of music who does the mid-day shift at Magic 105.3 FM. Although she and I do most of our listening within different genres (there's more overlap than most might imagine), Lauri's observations about music are almost always spot on.

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Arts & Culture
10:37 am
Sun December 2, 2012

Villa-Lobos: Symphonist

Generally, when we think of the compositional output of the Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, we think of the remarkable series of “Bachianas Brasileiras,” and then perhaps the collection of compositions he referred to as “Choros.” Within this music, so core to Villa-Lobos, we find compositions which pay his debt to Bach, show his love for the cello (the more the merrier), and in the “Choros” music which resonates into the concert hall the popular Brazilian form known as choro.

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KPAC Blog: 30th Anniversary
3:01 pm
Wed November 28, 2012

KPAC's 30th Anniversary: 30 Great Latin American Recordings

Cuarteto Latinoamericano, en los árboles.
Credit Courtesy Cuarteto Latinoamericano

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Arts & Culture
1:26 am
Sun November 25, 2012

On Itinerarios This Week: The 2012 Latin Grammys

The Grammys are important even if they relegate most of the classical awards to the afternoon well before the television cameras begins to roll, and it's much the same at the Latin Grammys, except more intimate, according to recording editor and mastering engineer Paul Blakemore.

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KPAC Blog
11:52 pm
Wed October 24, 2012

Orquesta Tipica Sexteto de Diez

James Baker

It would be well beyond facts to make the claim that every comedian is also inherently musical. However, I expect the exceptions would be a meager number when compared to those comedians who are, or in the case of comedians of yesterday, were endowed with significant musical abilities. Consider Steve Martin, today as much musician/banjo player as comedian. Even the recently departed Phyllis Diller played piano, apparently well enough in her younger years to consider a career in music. And what about Charlie Chaplin, who wrote music for his films?

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Itinerarios

Itinerarios was a weekly two-hour radio program featuring music and musicians from throughout Latin America.  Music by the acknowledged masters of Mexico, South and Central America and the Caribbean Islands was presented in a free-flowing session which also features performers with Latin American affiliations.

These world class artists bring a distinctive interpretive power to the music of Latin America, and the great body of European music.  A typical edition of Itinerarios might place an interpretation of Beethoven played by the Mexican pianist Jorge Federico Osorio alongside the guitar music of Paraguayan composer Augustín Barrios performed by the Welsh guitarist David Russell.

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