Dorato hit on another key reason a lot of the ESYO musicians gave for being involved with the group: It simply has a lot more to offer than their school music programs. ESYO commissions its own music. There are regular shows at Troy Savings Bank Hall, Proctors and Carnegie Hall in New York City. Musicians travel to other states and, occasionally, even other countries.
But joining ESYO isn't as simple as demonstrating a love of music. There are annual auditions -- landing a spot one year doesn't guarantee one the following year -- as well as tuition fees.
Then there's the practice time. The nine performing ensembles (two full orchestras, a wind orchestra, a string orchestra, two jazz ensembles and three percussion ensembles) dedicate a night to practicing each week, with professional musicians serving as conductors and coaches.
Sit in on a rehearsal, though, and you'll see it's not really a sacrifice for the musicians. They enjoy an easy rapport with the conductors -- Gummper had his kids in stitches demonstrating a pleading face they could use to convince their parents to take them to a local concert -- and when they take a break for refreshments, there's plenty of chatter and laughter.
That lighter side of rehearsals is mixed with a serious commitment to grow and improve as musicians.
Jared Harrison, a flute player from Cobleskill-Richmondville who drives 50 miles each way for practices at the Albany Academies, said he joined ESYO because "I wanted to increase my musical horizons."
Aden Brooks of Schenectady said ESYO has been invaluable in helping him grow as a trombone player.
Phillip Ducreay, a senior at Schenectady High School who plays violin, liked that ESYO could challenge him.
"Nowhere else around here can you get that kind of intensity," he said.
It's a treat for ESYO's conductors to work with kids who are looking for that intensity.