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The History & Achievements of MaSamba

Masamba Samba School

History and Achievements – April 2022   





Masamba Samba School was created on the huge wave of enthusiasm following the 1994 Big Bang Festival at the City Arts Centre. Initially the group was set up as a team-building exercise for the staff of the arts centre but demands for performances and workshops soon saw the group becoming independent and working in partnership with the City Arts Centre on numerous projects until the Centre closed the doors on the Moss Street premises in 2000.

Masamba has always had an open-door policy of encouraging those with little or no previous drumming experience to attend our weekly community workshops, as well as maintaining a semi-professional performance group which is available to play a wide range of events.

We also have a highly successful youth wing – ‘Masamba Youth Project’, which has played at festivals and events throughout the country, travelled to Yorkshire and Belfast, as well as producing a CD of their own work in late 2004. In 2016, the group presented at the worldwide MISTEC (Music in Education Teacher Education Commission) Conference, as a model of good practice.


Ongoing events




Masamba plays roughly 50 performances a year, mainly in Ireland. In that time, we have developed ongoing relationships with some of the country’s key festival events such as, St. Patrick’s Festival (Dublin), Ballina Street Festival, Lisburn Mayor’s Parade, Belfast Lord Mayor’s Carnival, the Liberties Festival, the Virginia Pumpkin Festival, and many appearances at the Dublin Pride Parade

Masamba are no strangers to indoor club performances either. Over the years we have played the Gaiety, the Olympia, the Village, Vicar Street, Crawdaddy (the Pod), the Sugar Club, Lost Lane (Dublin), 10 (Waterford), Passion (Carrick-on-Shannon), Trinity Rooms (Limerick), Radisson Hotel (Galway), to name but a few.

We have also made numerous appearances on television including ‘the Late Late Show’, ‘Saturday Night Live’, ‘Live at Three’, ‘Ireland AM’, etc. 




We firmly believe in the notion of lifelong learning and are aware that many groups and individuals are keen to explore their creativity through drumming. Each year we deliver over 120 workshops within our organisation, hosting a minimum of two workshops per week. Most of these are open to the public and are affordable or free. 

In addition, we are regularly invited to work with other groups in schools, universities, youth clubs, and for companies who see samba as a powerful teambuilding tool. In 2022, we delivered over 600 such ‘external’ workshops, working with around 9,000 people in the process.  


Recent Highpoints


October 2011, Masamba travelled to Chicago to perform at the Chicago Brasilian Music Festival, and to deliver workshops in Evanston Illinois, and Kenosha Wisconsin.


April 2014, Masamba sent a delegation to perform at the Carnaval de Toulouse, in partnership with our colleagues in Samba Résille.


September 2014, Masamba teamed up with Ulysses Opera Theatre and composer Tom Lane for a performance piece, ‘Harp – A River Cantata’ which launched the Dublin Fringe Festival.


March 2015 – The President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins officially opened Masamba’s new rehearsal facility on Bow Lane West, Dublin 8. The event is also attended by the Brazilian Ambassador to Ireland.


July 2016 – the Masamba Youth Project performed and presented at the worldwide MISTEC (Music in Education Teacher Education Commission) Conference, and presented as a model of good practice.


January 2017  - Masamba Commissions a mural for the outside of their rehearsal space to be painted by renowned street artist and activist Will St. Leger, in consultation with members of the Masamba Youth Project. The mural was based on Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, referencing the connections between Swift and the Liberties area of Dublin. There is a gallery of photos from the project here.


January 2018 – Masamba on the Road In late 2017, we were granted funding through the Dormant Accounts Fund, to purchase a new van to be used to support our work in the community. The van has reduced our reliance on outside suppliers, and facilitated us to increase both the amount and the geographical spread of the workshops and performances we deliver.





October 2013, DJ Moschops (Workingclass Records) remixes a Masamba demo track ‘Funny Funk’.

September 2014, Masamba teams up with Ulysses Opera Theatre and composer Tom Lane for a performance piece, ‘Harp – A River Cantata’ which launches the Dublin Fringe Festival.

August 2015 – Members of Masamba are joined by John Hicks (Aquarela, Paris) and Fabio Allman(Monobloco, RJ, Brazil) to record the first ever samba enredo in English. The song is a collaboration between John Hicks and Masamba’s Musical Director Simeon Smith, and celebrates the literary history of Dublin city.


April 2017 – Masamba hosts a group of 30 Brazilian-based Irish dancers, as they prepare for the World Irish Dancing Championships. The two groups rehearse together and start to work on some ideas for a future collaboration.


July 2017 - CVLTO do FVTVRV

In July 2017, we were invited to collaborate with visual artist Stephan Doitschinoff from Sao Paulo, Brasil, on a major exhibition at the Irish Museum of Modern Art. The group exhibition, entitled 'As Above, So Below" investigated the relationship between spirituality and art, and Stephan's section of it especially interested us, because of the inclusion of symbolism from candomblé and umbanda, as well as having a social justice agenda.

As a bonus, it turned out that the Musical Director for the project was the legendary Iggor Cavalera from Sepultura/Cavalera Conspiracy/MixHell. The music definitely wasn't samba, and took us a while to get our heads around it, but in the end, it was a very successful project. 

December 2019 - Support slot for Ara Ketu at the Button Factory

Ara Ketu began as an Afro-Bloc in the 1970s and have become one of the best known pop acts in Brazil today. Masamba had the honour of playing a 40-minute support slot for the band when they played a sold-out show in the Button Factory in December 2019.

October 2021 – Rotting Roots

Rotting Roots is a collaboration between Masamba Samba School and Afro-Brazilian dancer Alessandra Azavedo, which explores the connection between the world of the living and those who have passed, through music, dance and spoken word. The show was created for a Hallowe’en celebration in Dublin’s North East Inner City, called Canalaphobia, and funded by Dublin City Council.

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