Background I was born in New York, and moved to California when I was five. My older brother played the bassoon and the recorder. He taught me how to play recorder and when I was 11 the two of us would earn money by going out and playing recorder duets on the street -- we did well playing arrangements of Mozart's horn duets. I started cello in public school and ended up moving in with my cello teacher, Millie Rosner, when I was 13. While living with her I met lots of great cellists and learned most of what I know. I was a working musician through my 20s and early 30s, playing in orchestras, chamber groups, rock and Klezmer bands, Shakespeare festivals, and lots and lots and lots of weddings. I moved back to New York in 1993, composed and played music for theater, film and dance, and it was in 1999 that I got both my first steady teaching job (at the Brooklyn Conservatory) and my first radio job (at WNYE).
Nickname(s): I'm pretty much James. I was Jimmy as a child. I was once in a band where I was known as Kenmore, but that's a long story.
First album I ever owned: I think it was Karl Leister playing the Mozart Clarinet Concerto on DG.
Five desert island albums: Pablo Casals playing the Bach Cello Suites, Carlo Maria Giulini conducting Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, Yale Quartet playing Beethoven's String Quartet in A minor op. 132, Pierre Boulez conducting Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, Tallis Scholars singing Josquin's L'homme Arme masses...and can I sneak in the complete Robert Johnson delta blues recordings? .
Favorite podcast: Um...not there yet. I still listen to actual broadcast radio, static and all.
Greatest place to see live music: If you want to hear an orchestra, you can't beat Symphony Hall, and I say this as someone who used to live in Carnegie Hall (it's a long story.)
Most memorable concert: Seeing the Juilliard String Quartet perform the Beethoven C sharp minor quartet when I was 11 was a formative experience.
Favorite movie about music/musician: Does Bergman's film version of Mozart's Magic Flute count? Tamino and Papageno are musicians...
Favorite book about music/musician: Don't get me started. Pablo Casals' Joys and Sorrows. John Cage's Silence. Maynard Solomon's Beethoven. Bernstein's Unanswered Question. Alfred Einstein's Mozart. Woody Guthrie's Bound for Glory.
When not listening to classical music, I listen to Alan Lomax's field recordings. John Coltrane. Tibetan monks. I enjoy listening to pretty much any student who's studying any kind of music.
Finest moment on the air: When I'm not having my most embarrassing moment on the air, I'm happy.
Most embarrassing moment on the air: It's a long story.
If I weren’t a radio host I’d be a cello teacher, or conducting a youth orchestra.
The best part of my job is when I've heard that the music I've presented has transformed someone's day.
(By Luciof (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)