Young musicians learning Mozart by the campfire
Thursday, August 31, 2017
Young musicians learning Mozart by the campfire
Hannah Oh, Avery Kennedy and Gabrielle Carruthers are all members of the 2017-18 New Brunswick Youth Orchestra. The trio attended this year’s summer camp at Moncton’s Centennial Park. PHOTO: OLIVIA ZOLLINO/TIMES & TRANSCRIPT


As summer vacation nears to an end, Camp Centennial is packed with campers enjoying their last week before school starts up again.

But instead of camp fire songs, you’re more likely to hear classical music flow from the green cabins. That’s because the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra has taken over the grounds.

The annual camp event is the first rehearsal of the year for the approximately 80 NBYO members, ranging in age from 10 to 22 years old.

“Rehearsal starts at 8:30 a.m. and it goes most days until 6 to 6:30 p.m.,” Sarah Devlin, orchestra manager, said. “It’s a full day.”

After rehearsal, various activities are planned for the campers, like karaoke or a trip to Magic Mountain. But Devlin said by 10 p.m., the campers who stay overnight are in bed, exhausted by their day.

Campers start the week off by playing in their own instrument group and gradually play together as an orchestra for the first time this year.

Mariam Mesbah, NBYO director of marketing and communications, said the camp gives the students a jump-start on the season.

“It’s an opportunity for young people across the province to enjoy camp as a fun summer activity but also benefit from learning and upping their musical skills,”she said.“Most of the kids that are here ...are very serious about their music.” Some might not consider long days and a heavy workload as summer camp.

While 20-year-old percussion player Jocelyn Blanchette admits it can be difficult, he said it’s also rewarding. “It was a really good introduction to the year and to NBYO,” Blanchette said of his first camp experience. He said the welcoming instructors and the friendships he has formed with his fellow musicians made him want to come back to camp for a second time this year.

Piade Cliff-Nzombato, 17, plays the double bass in the NBYO. Like Blanchette, she said many of her friends from school don’t understand the intensity of her musical passion. “Some of them don’t really get it, some of them are like, ‘Why are you doing it? Why are you spending so much time playing music?’“ Cliff-Nzombato said. But at this camp, everyone shares the same bond.

“A lot of people don’t listen to classical music, so we’re talking about Tchaikovsky or Beethoven or Mozart or anybody like that, and [other people] will be like, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ “ Blanchette says with a chuckle.

The NBYO will perform their first concert Oct. 15 in Woodstock.