When, in 1996, Rui Júnior was commissioned to create a drum show for Expo ’98 based around the Bombo (traditional Portuguese bass drum) and traditional Portuguese rhythms, Tocá Rufar was born.
After Expo ’98, Tocá Rufar continued to go from strength to strength. On 28th May 1999, having already relocated to their new headquarters ‘TamborQFala’ in Setúbal, it became known as the Associação dos Amigos do Tocá Rufar (A.D.A.T.), or Tocá Rufar Friends Association.
Continuing to this day to develop it members’ artistic potential, A.D.A.T, under the artistic direction of Rui Júnior, has surpassed its initial goals as an association. With its traditional Portuguese percussion orchestra and the development of drumming workshops both in Portugal and abroad, A.D.A.T continues to attract children, teenagers and adults, and to establish partnerships with various public and private institutions.
With a growing reputation as a nonprofit initiative of obvious educational value, the Portuguese Ministry of Culture awarded it the status of “Project of Cultural Interest”. In 1999, the association represented Lisbon at the “Educating Cities” congress and in 2001 was awarded a prize by the National Educational Program. In March 2006, Tocá Rufar represented Portugal at the World Conference for Artistic Education at the Cultural Center of Belém and between 2006 and 2008 it was involved in “Reintegration Through Art”, a pilot project of an experimental nature run by Gulbenkian Foundation in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice. In October 2009 the radio station, Clube de Leiria, awarded it the prize for Education through the Art of the Bombo in the presence of the Culture Minister.
The impact of Tocá Rufar at national level launched it onto an international stage and Bombos have since been heard in countries such as Germany, Brazil, South Korea, Spain, U.S.A, France, Japan, Macau and the UK.
The largest traditional Portuguese percussion orchestra is frequently asked to collaborate with renowned artists, groups and associations from diverse musical traditions. Such musicians include Buraka Som Sistema, Fafá de Belém, Fausto, Jorge Palma, José Mário Branco, Mickael Carreira, Paulo de Carvalho, Rui Júnior & oÓquesomtem?, Tony Carreira, Xutos & Pontapés, to name just a few.
Tocá Rufar is at present the market leader and continues to invest in the growth and stimulation of the market by supporting and collaborating with emerging projects with similar ideals. By doing this we ensure that a restrictive and static market does not develop.
On March 1st 2011, the Tocá Rufar headquarters at TamborQFala was destroyed by fire causing the loss of nearly all of the project’s instruments. However, Tocá Rufar displayed resilience and humility and, despite this setback, managed to continue the artistic and educational development of the art of the Bombo and to meet the ever high standards of excellence that characterize it, without compromising its fundamental principles.