James Baker

Conference Ensemble Director

James Baker is Principal Percussionist of the New York City Ballet Orchestra. He is Music Director and Conductor of the Composers Conference at Wellesley College and Director of the Percussion Ensemble at the Mannes College of Music. Mr. Baker was the Conductor of the New York New Music Ensemble and is Principal Conductor of the Talea Ensemble. He is an Affiliate Conductor of the Slee Sinfonietta at the Institute for 21st Century Music in Buffalo. He has led the Orchestra of the League of Composers,Speculum Musicae , Ensemble ACJW, including at Carnegie Hall, the Cygnus Ensemble ,the ensemble Tactus at the Manhattan School of Music, Ensemble 21 and the DaCapo Chamber players among many others.He has conducted at the Darmstadt, Wien Moderne,Transit Belgium, Contempuls Prague, June in Buffalo, Beijing Modern, MATA,Ecstatic Music and Monadnok music festivals. He has both played and conducted at the Bang on a Can Marathon and has conducted at the Monday Night Concerts in Los Angeles. He has conducted a number of Composers Portrait concerts at Miller Theater including those of Pierre Boulez (where he led the US premier of Derive II), Toru Takemitsu Jason Eckardt , John Zorn and Chou Wen-chung. As instrumentalist or conductor he has premiered music by many of the great composers of the 20th and 21st centuries including: Boulez, Cage, Carter, Messiaen, Dillon, Harvey, Wourinen , Davidovsky, Glass, Aperghis , Reich, Reynolds , Henze , Crumb ,Babbitt , Neuwirth, Furrer, Billone, Fernyhough and many, many others often working closely with the composers.Upcoming engagements include conducting appearances at the Warsaw Autumn, Wien Moderne and the Darmstadt and Harvard summer courses.Through his work with his groups , at conferences,universities and festivals,he is an advocate for the music of a whole new generation of composers from around the world , premiering hundreds of new works. Mr. Baker was for many years a conductor of Broadway shows, conducting at The King and I, The Sound of Music, The Music Man , Oklahoma, An Inspector Calls and La Boheme among others.

Pronouns: he/him/his