Kryvyi Rig, Ukraine

November 2017

What a fun week in “the longest city in Europe”, it stretches over 100 miles from end to end! Our amazing team worked diligently with 199 Middle-School aged children, almost all of whom had never touched an instrument before. About 10% of the children were from an orphanage—never before “recognized” for their talent. These children are being transformed daily-we could see it right in front of our eyes!

Connie being interviewed by local news

Learning the Cello

Personal representative of the Mayor presents Connie with flowers

Students learning the violin for the first time

Zhytomyr, Ukraine

August 2017

A new concept brought new opportunities for many children in Zhytomyr, Ukraine. Our first Inclusion Camp in Ukraine brought children with visual impairment and Down syndrome to participate in Music Camp with 150 “traditional learners.” This new concept is “radical” in Ukraine, where special needs children have been isolated and ostracized for generations. Many have spent their entire life in one room.

This idea is still so new that it caught the attention of Ukraine’s First Lady, Marina Poroshenko, who not only attended the concert, but invited Connie Fortunato, founder and president, to a private coffee. This is where Connie met Vadim, a young man with Down syndrome, who at the age of 18, had never participated in an interactive situation with “normal” learners. Yet Vadim participated with so much enthusiasm and joy, at the performance his smile caught the attention of so many that “couldn’t believe what they were seeing.” It was just the first of many miracles to come.

Connie, our founder and president, with all of our campers at the final concert.

The First Lady of Ukraine (in white) watches the concert. Afterwards, she said how amazed she was with the result of our work with the children, especially with those with special needs.

Even if you don’t understand Ukrainian—you will love to see the children in the video clip.

Fagaraș, Romania

July 2017

Music Camp returned for its second year to the small city of Fagaraș, Romania. Diana, the Executive Director of the Casa de Cultura (“House of Culture”) was our sponsoring partner. Her team organized everything so that 222 children—many from the surrounding countryside could experience Music Camp. These children seldom, if ever, have an opportunity like Music Camp to inspire them, and give them the opportunity to meet and work together with many new children—some from remote villages with very small schools. Very few have the opportunity to participate in learning instruments and being in a choir. The team brought so much excitement and fulfillment to the children.


Vasylkyiv, Ukraine

June 2017

Our first camp in this city was enthusiastically received by city officials, parents, teachers, and the community foundations. 175 children were able to attend camp for the first time and discover talents they never knew they had. We are thrilled to have been invited back to Vasylkiv next year!


Pata Rât Community, Romania

June 2017

Immediately after school was out for the year, we held our 3rd Music Camp for the Roma children of the Pata Rât community. This Music Camp provided the opportunity for 80 marginalized children to discover and begin to develop their inner talent. The Camp is also a living laboratory of social relationships where the children learn to work together in peace, rather than fighting and violence. They learn self-discipline, develop the ability to focus, set high goals and work together to achieve them. Many of these children will enroll in our PLUS program in future years, giving them the help they need to be able to function at grade level and succeed in school.

Eating lunch during the break – What a treat!

We love our teachers!

Vinnytsia, Ukraine

May 2017

This was our second year to host a Music Camp in this city. 180 children returned from last year’s camp, and were thrilled to have us back! Our partners from Community Foundation recruited an extraordinary team of volunteers to help in all aspects of the camp. We were so thankful for their help and look forward to returning next year!

Final Concert in Vinnystia

Cluj-Napoca, Romania

March 2017

This was our second year to host a Music Camp in this city. 180 children returned from last year’s camp, and were thrilled to have us back! Our partners from Community Foundation recruited an extraordinary team of volunteers to help in all aspects of the camp. We were so thankful for their help and look forward to returning next year!

Our teacher, Peter, teaching a deaf boy how to play recorder by feeling the sounds rather than hearing.

Around the table learning to play bells. The kids at this camp range from being blind and visually impaired, to kids with cerebral palsy, and children without families who live in dormitories, to just “normal” children who enjoy traditional families.

Iasi Romania

September 2016

This year was our 8th City Day Music Camp in Iași. 150 children joined us to learn music, some for the first time. They put on a great performance at the end of the week, including music from Handel to Disney! Here is a video of the whole concert on Facebook.

Pata Rât Community, Cluj, Romania

August 2016

This was our 3rd time hosting a camp in this community on the outskirts of Cluj-Napoca. These children here have little or no hope of ever leaving their poverty stricken life. The local newspaper refers to this community as “an abyss from which very few ever escape.” Yet we have students who attended the last two years, and this year took the lead. They have been inspired to enroll and stay in school. They are now literate. They are now clean. They now have goals. You can see hope in their eyes for the first time. This is why we go to the Pata Rât Community – to bring hope and dignity and self-confidence; to let them know that they are loved and they are talented. It is beautiful to watch the transformation of these young lives.

Students learn cello

Connie with student at Pata Rât

Pata Rât

Kiev, Ukraine

August 2016

We were joyfully anticipating having our Music Camp children sing in the 25th Anniversary Independence Day Celebration, only to find out a few days before that we had been eliminated from the program. Our disappointment was tangible, but we had to move forward and find a new concert location for our Music Campers to perform. Within 24 hours, we created a concert in Marinsky Park in the Center of Kiev. We are very thankful for the help from Volunteers Help, a charitable organization. This week the children learned to take responsibility, to care for one another, and to be flexible when plans change.


Svyatogorsk, Ukraine

August 2016

Many of the children at this camp are IDP’s (Internally Displaced Persons). It was incredible to see their transformation right in front of our eyes during the 6 days of camp! – We saw hope reborn in their eyes and the ‘magic’ of being inspired to set high goals and work hard to achieve them. What they are learning changes their life, their family, their community and ultimately their country.

At the concert, our first number was conducted by Katya, a young woman who attended the first Music Camp in Ukraine back in 2003. It was at our music camp that she was inspired to become a conductor and now, 13 years later, she is in her final year of the Glier Music Institute with a major in Conducting! Like so many other children who have attended our Music Camps, Katya learned to set high goals and achieve them. We are very proud of her and of all the children we teach.

Fagaras, Romania

July 2016

222 children learned 6 songs in 5 days in 4 languages and performed 2 concerts! What an exciting and busy week full of encouragement, love and learning for these children. This is a rural community, which meant that many of these children have never had an opportunity like Music Camp before. Children who had previously been designated as “problems” in school, children who had been victims of social prejudice and economic deprivation–all worked together, discovering that music could penetrate the deepest places of their being and bring healing, hope, dignity, and self-confidence. The town was in a state of euphoric excitement in anticipation of the concert. For the first time ever, we had to hold two concerts to accommodate the anticipated crowd. What a beautiful week!

Orchestra rehearsal at Fagaras

Fagaras Romania

Students in class at Fagaras

Brasov, Romania

July 2016

This was our 12th consecutive year in this beautiful medieval city. We ended the week singing “We Sing for the Children” in the Catholic cathedral. Here is a video of this beautiful performance.

Cluj, Romania

June 2016

We have just finished our first year of PLUS – our pilot after school program which combines literacy and music for the vulnerable and marginalized children of Cluj-Napoca, Romania. In celebration, over the course of a month, these children performed multiple concerts and a final afternoon concert in the park, hosted by Bosch Corporation. This year exceeded our expectations and we are so thrilled to be continuing this program next year.

“Plus” students with Connie

“Plus” students on stage in Cluj

Kharkiv, Ukraine

April 2016

This was our first time hosting a camp in Eastern Ukraine, and it was a success! At the end of the week, over 300 children performed at the Opera house, singing in three languages. Those living in poverty (orphans, refugees and children with Down syndrome) joined “traditional” family children to reach for the stars and achieve what many thought to be impossible. This camp set a record for media coverage. Connie was interviewed on three television shows and media crews were in attendance for every aspect of camp.

At the Opera House performance, the rector of the University of Radio and Electronics spoke to the audience with these remarks, “Is it possible to teach students programming in one week? And is it possible to teach children to sing in a choir in one week, or to teach children to play a musical instrument who have never played an instrument or sung before? Constance Fortunato has proved that nothing is impossible. For one week, 300 children came to our university to learn music and singing, filling the university with music and joy. For the first time an event such as this took place in Kharkiv and we couldn’t pass up such an initiative for several reasons: these are our children, and specialists in the field of technology should play musical instruments. This is a requirement of Stanford University. Why should we do any less? We need to start now to develop our future students. We were spying on Constance and have applied her technology to teach our students for programming….in one week!”

Choir performs in Kharkiv Ukraine

Packed auditorium at Kharkiv

Cluj Romania

March 2016

This Music Camp was for blind, visually impaired, deaf and hearing impaired children to learn the gift of music. This was the first time in the history of this camp that we have included “traditional learners” along with these special children. The children each used their unique abilities, becoming perfect partners, and by the end of the week, friends. Here is a video of the camp from a local news station. It is in Romanian, but the smiles are universally understood.