Hartford, Connecticut, May 22, 2018—Several hundred people—including Greater Hartford families, members of the Trinity College community, and performing artists from Brazil—gathered on the Life Sciences Center quad on Saturday, April 28, for the all-day celebration at the culmination of the 12th annual Samba Fest. The performers included more than 30 musicians and dancers from Brazil (Adrianna, Gilvan de Oliveira Trio, Meninos de Minas with Maira Baldaia and Guilherme Ventura, José Paulo, Ginga Brasileira, and representatives from the Association of the Congado Guards of Itabira) as well as local groups (Trinity Samba Ensemble, Trinity Steel, Zikina, Friendz World Music, and the Hall High School Choirs).

SambaFest conference
​A conference, “Rhythmic Reflections: Exploring Community through Brazilian Music,” kicked off Samba Fest at Trinity College on Thursday, April 26. Photos by Monica Jorge.

This year’s Samba Fest was a three-day event that was free and open to the public, welcoming everyone to enjoy Brazilian food, music, culture, and activities. In addition to performances by musicians and dancers, Saturday’s festival included activity booths hosted by Trinity campus organizations, free face painting by Amazing Face Art, circus skills training by Juggle Joy, and several food and craft vendors.

New to the festival this year was a conference titled “Rhythmic Reflections: Exploring Community through Brazilian Music,” which concluded with a procession across campus to the Trinity College Chapel, where participants celebrated the first documented Missa Conga drumming Mass in the state of Connecticut on April 26. According to Associate Professor of Music Eric Galm, chair of Trinity’s Music Department and the festival’s founder, processionals such as this took place throughout Brazil during its early developmental period, from the mid-1500s to 1888, and served as a coronation ceremony to enthrone an individual commonly referred to as “King of the Congo.” This individual served as a leader of the community, and also as an intermediary between the enslaved community and an owner of a plantation. Conference participants included Trinity President Joanne Berger-Sweeney, Adjunct Consul General Luis Antônio Borda Silos of the Consulate General of Brazil in Hartford, and State of Minas Gerais Adjunct Secretary of Culture João Batista Miguel.

Missa Conga parade
A procession across campus to the Trinity College Chapel on Thursday, April 26, led to the celebration of a Missa Conga drumming Mass.

The Missa Conga is a popular Brazilian adaptation of a Catholic Mass accompanied by singing, drumming, and accordion, which was officiated by Padre Antônio Jorge Tchingui of the Nossa Senhora da Fátima Church in Hartford. An accompanying photographic exposition was held in the Mather Art Space titled, “Minas, Afro-Gerais: Roots and Connections of Tradition,” with photographs by Stael Azevedo, Cléber Camargo Rodrigues, and Simão Kursseldoff.

Samba Fest events also included a Brazilian percussion and music workshop held on Friday, April 27, for Trinity students and members of the Greater Hartford community, in Trinity’s Gruss Music Center featuring Serginho Silva, an innovative Brazilian percussionist who plays hand percussion instruments as an integrated drum set.

Additional community engagement included multiple interactive workshops at Hall High School in West Hartford, as well as a week of “Sneak Peek” performances at Trinfo.Café on Broad Street in Hartford, Hello! West Hartford at the West Hartford Town Hall, Blue Back Square in West Hartford, and in downtown Hartford at the Hartford Public Library and the UConn Hartford campus.

Band performing
Meninos de Minas with Maira Baldaia and Guilherme Ventura performed at Samba Fest on Saturday, April 28, at Trinity College.

“My goal with the Samba Fest, both on and off of Trinity’s campus, is to help encourage the college and our students to play a direct role in producing a major cultural event within the city of Hartford,” Galm said. “By generating positive publicity about cultural activities, music-making, and bringing the community together, we all benefit by generating a buzz about great things happening in Hartford. I’m also interested in partnering with organizations that promote equity in access to education, so to that end, we partnered this year with Connecticut Parent Power, a parent advocacy organization that helps parents to develop tools so that they can help their children be successful within their educational experience.”

A record number of Trinity College clubs and students volunteered at the Samba Fest, and Galm encourages more students to participate in future years. “Our student groups can incorporate Samba Fest into their activities and use the opportunity to address ideas such as immigration, culture, or other issues that help us forge even deeper connections between Trinity and our surrounding community,” Galm said. “Samba Fest can also serve as a venue for courses ranging from music and human rights to engineering courses to connect with relevant course material.”

dancer on stilts
Several hundred people—including Greater Hartford families, members of the Trinity College community, and performing artists from Brazil—gathered on the Life Sciences Center quad on Saturday, April 28, for the all-day celebration.

Ashlee Wisniewski ’18 and Karen Navarette ’20 were the student coordinators for the Samba Fest this year and assisted Galm by contacting student groups on campus to help out the day of the event and/or host activity booths. As a music minor at Trinity, Wisniewski said that the Samba Fest fit in well with her interests. “It’s a fun event put on by a great professor at Trinity,” Wisniewski said. “The Samba Fest represents Brazilian culture and involves the community since so many families come to enjoy the music.”

Samba Fest 2018 was presented with support in part by the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s United Arts Campaign, with major support from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, the Secretary of Culture, State of Minas Gerais, CT Parent Power, the Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation, UConn Hartford Campus, Hartford Public Library, the Consulate General of Brazil in Hartford, the City of Itabira, Minas Gerais, the Associação das Congadas de Itabira, Belmont, Nozinho Barcelos (Legislative Assembly of Minas Gerais), Neidson de Freitas (Itabira City Council), Roberta and Ray Beech ’60, Doisélles, 4º Plano, the Meninos de Minas, Baldaia Pró Cultura, Cruzeiro Esporte Clube, Centro Universitário Izabela Hendrix, Mauricio Tizumba and Tambor Mineiro , dBrasil Viagens, Arte & Costura, Café Cantalices, Som & Imagem Cia de Eventos, Giovanna Fashion, Suprema Administração de Condomínios, and Trinity College (Austin Arts Center Guest Artist Series, Student Government Association, Trinity College Chapel, Chapel Singers, Dean’s Event Fund, Departments of History, Music, and Anthropology, Center for Caribbean Studies, and Center for Urban and Global Studies Arts Initiative).

See more photos from Samba Fest here.

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