Samba Fest On Saturday

The 11th-annual Samba Fest takes place May 6 on the campus of Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. The event runs 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and features a variety of local, regional and international artists. The fest takes place rain or shine and admission is free.

Hartford Legend: Bandleader Ray González and his group Conjunto Antillano headline the 11th edition of Samba Fest. (Pablo Delano photo)

Hartford Legend: Bandleader Ray González and his group Conjunto Antillano headline the 11th edition of Samba Fest. (Pablo Delano photo)

WRTC coverage starts at noon with Sam Braga, Henry Brown, Chris Cowles, Wasine Mark and other staff members who will be interviewing artists, organizers, dignitaries and spectators as well as providing an overview of the proceedings.

Click here to listen live.

The main stage will be located behind 240 New Britain Ave., with parking available around the Koeppel Community Sports Center, on New Britain Avenue, Summit Street and Broad Street.

Conjunto Antillano, featuring legendary Hartford-based trumpeter/conductor Ray González, headlines this year’s program and is slated to start their set at 3:30 p.m. Gonzalez has worked with Tito Puente, Charlie Palmieri, Kako, Victor Paz, Giovanni Hidalgo, Charlie Sepúlveda and Ismael Rivera, among others. The Hartford Symphony Orchestra and the New Haven Symphony Orchestra have commissioned works from him and have collaborated with him on programs highlighting music of the Americas. He serves as music director for Guakía, Inc. and Guakía’s youth Latin jazz orchestra, Guakibomjazz.

Blazing Trails: Karibeth Ortega is one of only a handful of women who specialize in bachata.

Blazing Trails: Karlibeth Ortega is one of only a handful of women who specialize in bachata.

Vocalist Karlibeth Ortega kicks off the international portion of the fest at 1 p.m. Citing Adele and Yuridia as influences, the Honduran specializes in the tropical rhythms of bachata (romantic) and merengue pop styles of music. Historically speaking, bachata has been a male-dominated genre, but Ortega believes there is a great deal of opportunity for her to blaze a trail in the style. She often adds salsa and ballads to her performances.

“The 11th anniversary celebration of Samba Fest is a virtual panorama of Brazilian and world music and culture,” says Eric Galm, the creator and producer of the event. “There will be everything from the refined strains of contemporary jazz-influenced melodies and harmonies, the hard edge of grit and perseverance from working class communities and exciting dance workshops.”

Galm, an associate professor of music and ethnomusicology at Trinity, where he directs the Samba Ensemble and is the coordinator for the music track of the Trinity in Trinidad Global Learning Site, will lead the ensemble during the festival, including the opening samba parade at noon. At 5 p.m., the Trinity Samba Ensemble, under Galm’s direction, will be joined by Jose Paulo for the final performance of the event which usually turns into an extended jam session with a number of musicians joining in.

Master Teacher: Ugandan Gideon Ampeire brings the music of his homeland to Samba Fest.

Master Teacher: Ugandan Gideon Ampeire brings the music of his homeland to Samba Fest.

Galm continues to set the bar high, always trying to outdo the previous year’s festival by bringing in top international, national and local musicians.

“The optimistic musical carnival-like atmosphere,” says Galm, “is a great way to sample the flavor and feeling of Brazil.”

At 2:30 p.m., Ugandan master musician Gideon Ampeire will share the music of his homeland in a performance that is sure to include a lot of audience participation. Ampeire is adept at numerous Ugandan folk instruments, including zithers, bow harps, tube fiddles, lyres, flutes, thumb pianos, panpipes, log xylophones and drums.

Ginga Brasileira will hold a number of dance workshops throughout the day, including such styles as maculelê (2 p.m.), capoeira (3 p.m.) and samba (4:30 p.m.).

Performances start at 12:30 p.m. with choirs from Hall High School and Bristow Middle School, followed by Trinity Steel under the direction of Curtis Greenidge at 12:45 p.m. The Bossa Nova Project takes the stage at 1:15 p.m.

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