College Faculty


James Baker
Degrees in music from SUNY Purchase and Juilliard, where he studied percussion (with Raymond DesRoches, Saul Goodman, Elden Bailey, and Roland Kholoff) and conducting (with Yehudi Wyner, Robert Levin, Robert Black, and others).
Director, Mannes Percussion Ensemble


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 is the Conductor of the New York New Music Ensemble and Conductor of the Talea Ensemble. He is Guest 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 in concerts in NY and around the US and has conducted concerts with Ensemble ACJW, including at Carnegie Hall, the Cygnus Ensemble at the Library of Congress and in NY, 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, June in Buffalo and Beijing Modern 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 and the contemporary music festival in Santa Cruz. 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 and Jason Eckardt. 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. 

An active composer of electro-acoustic music, Mr. Baker won a Bessie award for composition for dance. He has written extensively for the theater and for various ensembles with electronics. Recent commissions included the Opera Ballet de Lyon, BAM Next Wave, The Dublin Dance Festival and the Abbey Theater in Dublin. His compositions have been heard in performance in France, Italy, the Netherlands, around the US and in NY at Dance Theater Workshop, The Kitchen and  Dancespace among others. As a percussionist he has appeared with Orpheus, the New York Philharmonic, the American Composers Orchestra and the Paris Opera Orchestra among others. He has appeared as a soloist at the Carnegie Hall Making Music series (for Hans Werner Henze), Lincoln Center Festival, and at NY City Ballet and at Festivals in Santa Fe and Moab. He has played on many sound tracks for film and television and has appeared with Wayne Shorter, Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Brubeck, Jimmy Webb, Aretha Franklin, Carly Simon, Michel LeGrand, Lincoln Center Jazz, Branford Marsalis, Pablo Ziegler and many other jazz and pop performers. 

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