Versatile and highly acclaimed conductor Yair Samet enjoys a widespread international career spanning three continents. He is consistently cited for his high level of artistry and exceptional knowledge of the repertoire.
Mr. Samet was appointed first associate conductor of the San Jose Symphony Orchestra in 1994. In addition, he was nominated Music Director and Conductor of the San Jose Youth Symphony, with whom he has toured Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Japan, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Spain and Poland.
Mr. Samet has conducted the famed Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra on tour in Germany, the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra in Serbia, the Saarländisches Staatsorchester in Saarbrücken, Germany, the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra in China, and the Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra in Bosnia. In addition, he conducted the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra and the St. Petersburg Glinka Capella at Finland’s Tampere International Music Festival. In Israel he conducted the Haifa Symphony, the Rishon Le-Zion Symphony Orchestra, and the Israeli Sinfonietta.
He has performed with renowned artists such as Pinchas Zukerman, Vadim Repin, David Shifrin, Han-Na Chang, Helène Grimaud, Lara St. John, Raphael Wallfisch, Jon Nakamatsu, and Jon Kimura Parker.
In addition to his professional conducting accolades, Mr. Samet also serves on the music faculty of the University of California Santa Cruz as a regular guest conductor, leading the UCSC Symphony Orchestra.
Born in Jerusalem, Yair Samet attended the Rubin Academy High School of Music and Arts where he studied piano and bassoon, and was invited as the institution’s youngest student to join the composition department under the guidance of internationally renowned composer Mark Kopitman. As a teenager, Mr. Samet performed frequently as soloist and chamber musician throughout Israel and for Israeli National Television.
Throughout his undergraduate and graduate studies, Yair Samet was the recipient of three scholarships from the American Israel Cultural Foundation. He began his formal orchestral conducting and musicology studies at Tel-Aviv University during which he founded the Young Israel Chamber Orchestra, a group he led for 4 years. Mr. Samet made his professional conducting debut in his early twenties with the Rishon Le-Zion Orchestra, a privilege offered only to finalists of Israel’s International Course for Conductors under the direction of Maestro Noam Sheriff.
Having earned a national reputation as a gifted young conductor and musician, the Young Israel Philharmonic, a wing of the famed Israel Philharmonic, created the position of assistant conductor for him in 1989. This unique distinction allowed him to view closely the work of conductors such as Leonard Bernstein, Zubin Mehta, Kurt Masur and Claudio Abbado. Mr. Samet completed his graduate studies in conducting and composition in the United States at Indiana University where he conducted the Indiana University String Orchestra and gave concerts with each of the University’s five orchestras.