For musicians, not much can beat the adrenalin rush of playing something close to their hearts live onstage, the exhilaration of performing for hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people.
The sound of the music, from the perspective of New Brunswick Youth Orchestra players, seems greatly amplified when 85 of them - the province's most talented young musicians - play and perform in harmony, creating the sweetest nectar for the ears.
One of the youth orchestra's newest finds, cellist Michael Leger of Fredericton, can't wait to feel the power of the group as he and his fellow musicians press their lips, hands, fingers or feet to their instruments.
'I think it's really powerful to know you are one of 85 producing this sound,' Michael, 16, said. 'That's huge.' Michael and the other musicians, from elementary school to university students, will see their first chance perfor ming and feeling like a professional orchestra in late October at the season opener in Grand Falls.
From there, the orchestra will travel all over the province, playing six concerts in all - one more than a regular season.
This season may well bring the young players to an international music competition next summer, the Summa Cum Laude International Youth Music Festival Competition, in Vienna.
It was there the orchestra garnered international attention. Not only did the NBYO's performance of Conga del Fuego receive the first standing ovation in the festival's history, the jury awarded the orchestra first place in its division.
This year, it's Moncton's turn to see the youth at their finest - the annual, end-of-year finale and fundraising concert, featuring a guest artist, will go at the Wesleyan Celebration Centre in March.
The orchestra's conductor, Tony Delgado, encourages people in the Moncton region who haven't attended an NBYO concert to come out and enjoy the talent, discipline and pure passion of the students.
'Everyone should be proud because there's a very nice, hard-working youth orchestra in our province who are improving greatly each year,' he said. 'Classical music has been associated with uptight serious people. But with our kids, you can see the joy in their faces when they play and they prove that older music can be played with expression and you can have fun with it.
'When the artist enjoys what he or she is doing, the audience sees it and appreciates that. … It's pure entertainment.' Moncton is home to many of the young musicians, including the majority of the 10 new members who worked and played their way through the orchestra-partnered Sistema music program.
Fourth-year member, Sienna Cho, 16, said she's glad New Brunswick is home to such a great music program for youth and the highlevel New Brunswick Youth Orchestra.
'When I first joined, me and Margie were like some of the youngest in the group and now, we are some of the oldest,' the violinist said. 'It's good to see young ones coming up because with the coaches, our conductor, the friends and the music we're making, it's just fabulous.' Margie, who plans to study and pursue music as a career in Europe, is glad classical music has become 'cool' again.
'Where I am in Saint John, there was a really strong strings program but then everyone graduated and there were no new ones coming up to fill those spots,' she said. 'Through the NBYO, we see the newer ones coming through and getting involved, so it won't just fizzle out.' What keeps the musicians engaged, said the incredible dedication of Tony and the 14 full-time faculty members who guide and inspire the youth.
MacLeod said that simply as an observer, you can see how the kids learn and adapt their playing style to the music or compositions at hand.
'The experience Tony brings from Latin America, where classical music is huge, they learn at a high level,' he said. 'The thing (he) tells them is 'first, you lear n the notes, then you play the music' and I think that's evident in the performance they give now.' Michael, who plays piano and guitar at home, too, is anxious to see what the season brings.
Whether he goes on to pursue music after high school, he is certain the experience playing for the youth orchestra is second to none.
'I've been hearing about NBYO for a long time. It has such a great reputation and great faculty and directors who support it.'