Conductor and percussionist, principal conductor of Talea Ensemble. He has conducted at such prestigious new music events as the Darmstadt International Summer Courses for New Music, Wien Modern, Warsaw Autumn, Transit (Belgium), Contempuls (Prague), Nouvelles Voix Royaumont, reMusik (St Petersburg), Contempo Chicago, Musikprotokoll Graz, and Beijing Modern. He has both played and conducted during the Bang on a Can marathon. In New York he has led numerous concerts dedicated individually to contemporary classics such as Pierre Boulez (including the US premiere of Dérive II), Tōru Takemitsu, Jason Eckardt, John Zorn, and Chou Wen-chung. He has worked with a great many orchestras and ensembles, including the Orchestra of the League of Composers, Slee Sinfonietta (affiliated to the Center for 21st Century Music in Buffalo), the American Composers Orchestra, Speculum Musicae, New York Philharmonic Chamber Ensembles, Ensemble ACJW at Carnegie Hall, the Cygnus Ensemble, Decoda Ensemble, Ensemble Tactus (at the Manhattan School of Music), Ensemble 21, Musica Nova at the Eastman School of Music (Rochester), and DaCapo. He was Music Director and Conductor of the Composers Conference at Brandeis University (Waltham, Massachusetts) for 14 years. In 2021/2022 he directed the Grossman Ensemble at Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition (University of Chicago). James Baker was for many years a conductor of Broadway shows, conducting at The King and I, The Sound of Music, The Music Man, Oklahoma, and An Inspector Calls, among others.