James Bennett II

James Bennett II is a staff writer for WQXR.

James is a noted pineapple enthusiast and native of the original (read: Chesapeake) Bay Area. At the impressionable age of 17, he moved to New York in search of concrete pastures and scooped up a BA in history from Columbia University. Classical music had always been an interest, but it really switched on after he heard Yo-Yo Ma rip “Fear” from Astor Piazzolla’s Four Tango Sensations. It popped up on shuffle, and he listened to it no fewer than 40 times in a row.  He’s also game to talk about jazz, hip-hop, and wave (chill, synth, vapor, or otherwise). James is also fond of funky ales, fall foliage, all things nautical, and harsh winters. Some would say he has a passing interest in the post-romantic situational comedy Friends

James Bennett II appears in the following:

Black Classical: Composers and Conductors Who Shaped Music History

Tuesday, February 01, 2022

Here are just a few of the many composers and conductors that you should remember, for Black History Month and beyond.
Read More

Comments [3]

Conductor Centennial: Julius Rudel

Saturday, March 06, 2021

March 6, 2021, marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of conductor Julius Rudel. We’ll be highlighting several works from his conducting discography on air to mark the occasion. 

Comments [1]

Judas and the Black Messiah: Worldbuilding in Sound

Monday, March 01, 2021

WQXR's James Bennett II walks listeners through the score and soundtrack of Judas and the Black Messiah. 


Judas and the Black Messiah: Worldbuilding in Sound

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Punctuating the Action; or, A Soundtrack Doing what Soundtracks Do Best


The Romantic Artistry of George Walker

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Exploring the artistry of composer-pianist George Walker.

Comments [3]

Searching with Robert Nathaniel Dett

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

A look at Robert Nathaniel Dett's lifelong search for sound.

Comments [1]

Tripping with Alice Coltrane

Thursday, February 04, 2021

'Eternity' is journey, you know?


The Word is Bonds

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

On listening to Margaret Bonds and the impact of classical song.

Comments [1]

We Need to Be Listening to Reber's Fourth Symphony Way More Often

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Reber's Fourth Symphony is a vivacious and epic work. Why haven't we heard it live?

Comments [3]

Recognize the Light and Handle the Glare

Friday, January 15, 2021

Music does what music do.


Where are the Orchestra's Guitars?

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Guitars are popular. They're everywhere, and if you don't know how to play, Dan Smith will teach you. So why aren't they in the orchestra?

Comments [4]

Countdown 2020: The Takeaways

Friday, January 01, 2021

Thoughts and analysis from a countdown for a wild year.
Read More

Comments [21]

Hold On — Why Is 'Hansel and Gretel' a Christmas Piece?

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Ever wondered why certain classical pieces seem so characteristically "holiday" and "New York?" 


Even With Quiet Concert Halls, Beethoven Talk Still Dominated 2020

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

We didn’t listen to a ton of Beethoven like we thought we would this year. But we did talk about him. A lot.
Read More


Big Fan: 5 Beethoven Dedicatees

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Here's a list of five pieces Beethoven wrote for others and the stories behind them. 

Comments [1]

Sound of Silk

Thursday, December 10, 2020

I mean, this is just one way of hearing it.


2020. It's Been a Year.

Thursday, December 03, 2020

Classical artists reflect on what the unexpected year meant for them, for music, and the future.


'Five Negro Folksongs in Counterpoint' is a Musical Centerpiece

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Have I found my official Thanksgiving theme? Yes, yes I have.

Comments [3]

In Awe of the Agile Sax

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Pedro Iturralde's Pequeña Czarda; or, "Kneel before the might of Sax Almighty."


Satie's Ogives: Ring, Ring, Ring

Thursday, November 05, 2020

Of shepherd's pie and minty gum.

Comments [3]