Conductor and music educator Richard Gill is the music director for the Australian Youth Orchestra's National Music Camp 2014, and it's hard to imagine a more apt or impassioned advocate.
Gill's association with the 65-year-old camp goes back to 1980, when he was one of the orchestra's conductors, and he was involved with it a few other times in Perth and Adelaide as well.
''I've been an irregular guest with the AYO. This is my first time as director.''
This will be the largest AYO National Music Camp to date, with 240 participants aged 14 to 25, who secured their places through auditions. They will have two weeks of intensive rehearsals and classes before giving a series of performances.
For the first time, a classical orchestra will be formed and led by Geoffrey Lancaster to play music of the Classical era, part of Gill's vision for the camp. Alexandre Bloch is the third conductor.
''I want to give students a view of music and its traditions,'' Gill says.
The repertoire will range from the Classical period through the Romantic era and the 20th century - the composers include Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Stravinsky and Copland - and it will come up to the present with two new pieces by two young Australian composers, Philip Jameson and Andrew Howes.
These are ''very accessible works'' by ''prodigiously gifted composers'', Gill says.
Johannes Brahms' second and fourth symphonies will be at the centre of the concert series.
The 19th-century German composer had a special place in musical history, Gill says.
''It's immensely powerful music. You hear in Brahms a composer whose understanding of the formal complexities of music was without parallel in the Romantic period.''
Over time, music became more diverse in style, even in one period, Gill says.
The rigorous structures and forms of the Baroque and Classical periods began to change and, by the early 20th century, music encompassed everything from Bartok to Debussy, Puccini to Weill.
Copland marked the beginning of a national style for American music and Stravinsky, with his use of Russian folk songs and themes, was intensely Russian.
Young people come to the camp for various reasons, Gill says, ''social reasons, musical reasons, intellectual reasons''. ''The camps don't exist to create musicians of the future. That's one little offshoot.''
It's fun for them, he says. They get to be with people of similar interests, playing with musicians who play at their level without having to wait for others to catch up, and they get to learn a lot in a brief, intense period and to perform a variety of repertoire.
''It's an incredibly important cultural part of Australia's musical life.''
For Gill, the most important part of the camp is the tutorial program.
''The tutors are specialists in their instruments and have played the repertoire a thousand times, so they can provide insights into the music that are not found anywhere else.''
Although Gill won't be running any of the tutorials, he will visit them, so he can get to know the students and see what they have learnt from the tutors.
''It's always enlightening for me too,'' he says.
Apart from working with the camp when it has been in Canberra, Gill was also the chief conductor and artistic director of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra in the early 2000s and helped bring it some much-needed consistency and financial stability.
''I dragged it from the doldrums, dare I say.''
The AYO National Music Camp 2014. Concert series: Llewellyn Hall, Australian National University, January 11-17. Free admission. Full program details: ayo.com.au.