Haya Samir
Photo by Chanan Bar Asulin (courtesy of Jerusalem Season of Culture)

Haya Samir

Haya Samir is a singer, composer and poet. Born in Jerusalem and a graduate of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, Samir comes from an Egyptian background and specializes in Israeli folk music; writing in different genre’s based on classical and folk forms.

Her father, the noted Egyptian poet, Nibehh Sarhaan, received political asylum in Israel in 1968. Samir’s performing career began at age six, as a member of his Egyptian folklore ensemble. Established upon Sarhaan’s arrival in Israel, the group included Israelis, Jews from Arab countries and Palestinians, and appeared before Arab audiences across the country. At the age of fourteen, Samir went on to perform as a soloist in the Israeli representative folk band Horah Jerusalem. The band appeared before Jewish communities around the world for nearly five years, exhibiting the best of Israeli folklore and embracing influences of European Hasidic, Yemenite and Bedouin traditions. Samir has been educated according to Jewish tradition and values, although her parents are Muslim. Her father, a pioneer in liberal attitude and a true human friend encouraged Samir to promote fraternity and peace in her own life’s work. She has participated in events that have supported these values, which include the airway route between Jordan and Israel.

While Samir continues her studies, she runs the workshop for folklore studies at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, under the recommendation of Maestro Zubin Mehta. She has also appeared with the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra in Israel and the New-York Philharmonic Orchestra in the U.S.A. Three of her works were performed during the 70th year celebration of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra. Her musical compositions draw on different cultural orientations that intersect and blend with one another. Samir believes the musical language is able to draw the human heart and ears to provinces of tranquility and wonderment.