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Ninth Annual Samba Fest at Hartford Riverfront, May 2

Hartford, Conn.--Brazilian and Connecticut artists join forces with Trinity College students at the ninth annual Samba Fest on Saturday, May 2, from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at Mortensen Riverfront Plaza, 300 Columbus Boulevard. Admission is free. Rain or shine, the show will go on.

Samba Fest includes lots of family fun, such as a “percussion zone” where children can play Brazilian instruments, which is sponsored by the Contemporânea Percussion Company; a drum-making station; face painting by Amazing Face Art; and more crafts, activities, and games provided by Trinity College student groups. Brazilian food and merchandise will be available for purchase.

Samba Fest features the United States debut of the Ivan Vilela Trio from São Paulo. Vilela, who specializes in playing the viola caipira, an acoustic guitar with ten steel strings used in Brazilian folk music, returns for an encore engagement at Samba Fest, which featured him as a solo performer last year.  He has recorded more than 15 albums and is a professor at the University of São Paulo in the School of Communication and Arts. He will be joined by Gilberto dos Syllos on acoustic bass and Ari Colares on Brazilian percussion.

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.

Samba Fest will start with a samba parade open to everyone, led by the Trinity Samba Ensemble, directed by Eric Galm. The group is formed 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. They perform participatory call-and-response songs in Portuguese and English. The group plays percussion instruments such as the surdo (similar to a bass drum); tamborim (small frame drum); agogô (double-bell); and ganzá (shaker). The group takes musical cues from the repinique, the “master drum,” supported by guitar, bass, and other instruments, which add harmonic layers to the multi-part vocals and rhythms.  

Other performers are 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.  

A noontime preview will be held Thursday, April 30 at the Hartford Public Library, 500 Main Street, Hartford.

Eric Galm, who conceived and produces Samba Fest, is 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. From 2006 to 2010, he served as president of the Society for Ethnomusicology’s Northeast Chapter. He has lived, studied and traveled extensively throughout Brazil, and has conducted research in Cuba and Trinidad. He holds degrees in ethnomusicology from Wesleyan and Tufts universities, percussion performance from the University of Michigan, and performance certificates from the Escola Brasileira de Música and the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. 

Produced by Trinity College in in partnership with Riverfront Recapture, Samba Fest 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 Dean of Students), and Greater Hartford Arts Council.

The Trinity Samba Fest is free and open to the public. For directions and parking information, visit For general information, call 860-297-2199.

Samba Fest can be heard live on WRTC 89.3 FM radio.

Founded in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1823, Trinity College ( is an independent, nonsectarian liberal arts college with over 2,200 students from 48 states and 57 countries. The faculty and alumni include recipients of the Pulitzer Prize, the MacArthur award, Guggenheims, Rockefellers, and other national academic awards. Trinity students integrate meaningful academic and leadership experience at all levels on the College’s celebrated campus, in the Capital City of Hartford, and in communities all over the world.