This post is also available in: Spanish
By Abigail Delgado
If you are Brazilian, you know what carnival feels like or at least you have felt the energy that emanates from a bateria at some point in your life.
The fast pace of the rhythms that rise up make even those who are not very talented dancers feel like they just have to dance and feel the contagious harmonies of Samba.
However, if you have never had this experience, on May 2, it will be just a drive away – no plane ticket necessary – to attend the 9th Annual Samba Fest, at the Mortensen Riverfront Plaza in Hartford, CT.
Samba Fest will start with a samba parade open to everyone, led by the Trinity Samba Ensemble, directed by Eric Galm. The group has been established in an academic course that teaches Brazilian culture through its music and rhythms. The Samba Ensemble repertory derives from the batucada, a drumming group that plays samba music during Brazil’s carnival celebrations. Samba Fest will also include musical performances by local and international bands, featuring the United States debut of Meninos de Minas, a group of 14 from a social service project located in Minas Gerais, Brazil. It’s an organization that provides youth aged 14-18 with learning musical performance and musical instrument craftsmanship skills as a means to prepare them to enter the workforce.
Also from Brazil, the Ivan Vilela Trio of São Paulo specializes in playing the viola caipira, an acoustic guitar with ten steel strings used in Brazilian folk music. Other performers include the Trinity Steel Band, directed by Curtis Greenidge, the Guakibom Jazz Band, a youth ensemble directed by Ray Gonzalez and local favorite, The Hartford Hot Several Brass Band.
But there is much more than just music at the fest. Ginga Brasileira, directed by Efraim Silva, will lead dance workshops in samba, the Afro-Brazilian martial art/dance/game of capoeira and maculelê, a “stick dance” developed by enslaved Africans on northeastern Brazilian sugar plantations.
Eric Galm, who has conceived and produced Samba Fest, is an Associate Professor of Music and Ethnomusicology at Trinity College, where he directs the Samba Ensemble and is the coordinator for the music track of the Trinity in Trinidad Global Learning Site. He has lived, studied and traveled extensively throughout Brazil. During that time, he fell in love with the culture of the South American country and conducted several research studies about the Brazilian Music. But he started to feel the need to put all the knowledge he had acquired into action. “That’s when I had the idea to bring my research to the community through an event that could also promote and attract artists,” said Galm in perfect Portuguese, adding that the first Samba Fest in Harford was in 2007 and was called “Spring Samba Celebration.”
According to Galm, Samba Fest has grown tremendously over the past nine years. “The first year only 300 hundred people attended the event and last year, four thousand people were present. This year, I would like to count with the presence of the Brazilian Community to support the event,” highlighted Galm.
In addition to the music, you will find family friendly activities such as face painting, popular Brazilian drinks like caipirinhas and other staples of Brazilian cuisine.
The festival will be held on May 2 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free and all ages are welcome.
Samba Fest is produced by Trinity College in in partnership with Riverfront Recapture and it is sponsored by the Consulate General of Brazil in Hartford, the Edward C. and Ann T. Roberts Foundation, Trinity College (Austin Arts Guest Artist Series, Department of Music, Office of Multicultural Affairs, Center for Urban and Global Studies Arts Initiative, Trinfo Café and the Dean of Students) and the Greater Hartford Arts Council.
For directions and parking information, visit sambafest.com. For general information, call 860-297-2199.