Maracatu Ilha Brilhante expected to thrill at 2019 BlueFire Festival

By Ayomide Akinshilo / September 18, 2019

Eccentric, intriguing, engaging are just some of the words you can use to describe Maracatu Ilha Brilhante

The dance and music group who will be performing at the 2019 BlueFire Festival are one of the most anticipated performers at the event. 

So thrilling is the group that they can perform up to an hour and a half on stage, says the group’s music director Tom Duffy. 

Describing the group and the audience they perform for, Duffy said: “Maracatu is the type of music we play, Ilha Brilhante is Portuguese for shiny Island”. 

He added: “We are quite a large group and we don’t perform regularly. We are not out every week. We play about ten to a dozen gigs in a year and normally in cultural festivals.

“Many of our members are performers for other groups. It (maracatu) is such a specific music type and very often the festivals we play at are the sort that has an inclusion of Brazilian people.”

Mr. Duffy explains how the slave trade in the 18th and 19th century created Maracatu Ilha Brilhante rhythm.

“Maracatu is music that predates samba and it initially evolved from the sort of music they played for the king of Congo,” he said. 

“So during the slave trade in Brazil when they brought people over and enslaved then from a variety of different countries and regions in Africa, some people in Brazil recognized the leaders and they created some music to celebrate these leaders coming over.”

“In turn, a lot of Portuguese slave traders used that leadership to try and organize the slaves.

“So the music performed was used as a way of celebrating and recognizing that people had a cultural significance despite the fact that they had been brought to a new world. 

“So about a 150 years after slavery, the music has evolved. It is still connected to Afro-Brazilian religious practice.

“So we play the rhythm with respect. We don’t play them in a sacred context as we are fully aware of their cultural weight as we play them.”

Mr. Duffy admits that while they try to maintain the historical rhythm of Maracatu, the group tries to include modern contemporary tunes.   

Maracatu Ilha Brilhante which currently has 30 members usually have about 20 people during practice. 

The non-commercial Maracatu Ilha Brilhante has a multicultural line up which includes people from the Netherlands, Brazil, Ireland and Germany. 

While performing outside Ireland might sometimes be difficult due to monetary concerns the message from the group at the BlueFire festival will be about peace, positive energy and togetherness. 

Mr. Duffy admits that while the BlueFire festival is not the biggest platform it has/will be performing with energy and engaging vibes. 

The much anticipated 2019 Bluefire Festival is upon us. The one-day, all-ages festival will take place on Saturday 21st September in Smithfield Square, Dublin.

This is the 7th festival which is held annually in Dublin. BlueFire is the first Irish organisation to launch a Music Declares Emergency stage with live music.

About the author

Ayomide Akinshilo

Ayomide is a journalist and editor with a passion for sports, video games and African culture. He has degrees in Mass Communication, Journalism and Media Communication.

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