Culture Connect Featured Event

7th Annual Samba Fest
Ticket Price: Free admission
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An energetic Carnival atmosphere will resonate at the seventh annual Trinity Samba Fest on Saturday, May 4, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., at Mortensen Riverfront Plaza, 300 Columbus Boulevard. Admission is free to this family-friendly event. Rain or shine, the show will go on.

“The rhythmic celebrations emerging from Brazilian, Trinidadian, and Puerto Rican musical expression represent the diversity that comprises Greater Hartford’s rich cultural community,” says Eric Galm, who conceived and produces Samba Fest. The Trinity College professor of music and ethnomusicology continued, “Carnival celebrations offer a festive site that enables cultural critique while galvanizing a unified community.”

The Trinity Samba Ensemble is an academic course in which students (musicians and non-musicians) learn 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.

Samba Fest will open with Trinity Steel, a student-run ensemble directed by Ashish Adhikari ’13, and craft-making activities for children and families. A parade follows at noon, featuring the Trinity Samba Ensemble, directed by Galm, and student musicians from Achievement First Hartford Academy Middle School, and other local schools. The youth ensemble Guakibom Jazz, conducted by local celebrity trumpeter and salsa bandleader Ray González, performs at approximately 12:30 p.m.

De 4 Ahwee & Company, a Bloomfield-based West Indian steel band—consisting of tenor pan, double second pan, guitar pan, electric bass, percussion, and drums—goes on next. The band was founded by Sandra and Cadet Roach, and later joined by Curtis Greenidge.  

Throughout the afternoon, New Haven’s Ginga Brasileira will demonstrate the Afro-Brazilian martial art of capoeira and the “stick dance” called maculelê, which originated with enslaved Africans working on Brazilian sugar plantations, and samba dance styles. The group is directed by Efraim Silva, the 1988 Brazilian national champion of capoeira. Additionally, a variety of activities for children include free face painting, a drum making workshop, and a photo booth.

Brazilian vocalist José Paulo, who grew up singing with the Salgueiro samba school in Rio de Janeiro, will join the Trinity Samba Ensemble. Ed Fast and Conga-Bop, a Latin jazz ensemble that fuses the harmonies and sensibilities of hard-bop with the rhythms of the Caribbean, will follow. In addition to his own original material, drummer-vibist-composer Ed Fast leads the band in playing classics by Cal Tjader, Tito Puente, and Hilton Ruiz. The Trinity Samba Ensemble with Paulo will team up with Conga-Bop for a vibrant finale.

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