June 12, 2018
The San Francisco Symphony has announced a late addition to its 2018 “Summer with the Symphony” series. Rapper, actor, and activist Common will be performing selections from his body of work, which comprises 11 studio albums and 15 years’ worth of regular work in film and television. The San Francisco Symphony and conductor Steven Reineke, music director of the New York Pops, will accompany the August 1 performance at Davies Symphony Hall.
Among the prominently billed songs on the program, Common is slated to perform “Glory,” the Golden Globe and Academy Award-winning number that he co-wrote and recorded with John Legend for the 2014 movie Selma, in which he also starred as civil rights figure James Bevel. Themes of racial injustice constitute a major thread across much of the rapper’s work; recent and upcoming projects include an album titled Black America Again and a featured role in Fox’s film adaptation of The Hate U Give, a young adult novel detailing the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager.
Media-savvy readers might best remember the rapper/activist for his 2011 appearance at the White House’s “Evening of Poetry,” which was occasion for a minor media controversy of sorts.
In the context of the S.F. Symphony’s summer series, Common’s performance fits comfortably in the model of relaxed offerings with popular appeal. “A Salute to Gershwin,” the original Star Wars trilogy with live orchestra, and José Hernández and the Mariachi Sol de México are among the other summer programs, which begin in earnest on July 3.