Image - Omar illustration by Brian Stauffer
Past Event

Omar Ibn Said: Remembering His Name, Retelling His Story

The Arts Member-led Forum and San Francisco Opera’s Department of Diversity, Equity and Community invite you to a powerful and thought-provoking panel discussion. As home to one of the largest Muslim populations in the United States, the Bay Area might have special interest in the 2023 Pulitzer Prize winner for music, Omar, by Grammy Award-winning artist Rhiannon Giddens and composer Michael Abels.The production runs November 5–21 at the War Memorial Opera House.

A true story of an astonishing journey enshrined in a 200-year-old autobiography of enslaved Islamic scholar Omar Ibn Said in the Carolinas, who publicly records his story in Arabic—evidencing the act of writing as the preservation of identity.

Omar is a sweeping canvas of text, Christian and Islamic faith, profoundly realized in Kaneza Schaal’s transcendent production embodying the horrors of the “Middle Passage,” prison life, plantation traumas and creative human spirit.

MLF Organizer
Anne W. Smith

An Arts Member-led Forum program. Forums at the Club are organized and run by volunteer programmers who are members of The Commonwealth Club, and they cover a diverse range of topics. Learn more about our Forums.

Illustration by Brian Stauffer; Kennedy photo by Karl Nielsen; Taylor photo by Suzanne V.

November 1, 2023

The Commonwealth Club of California
United States

Image - John Kennedy

John Kennedy

Conductor, Omar; Former Director of Orchestral Activities, Spoleto Festival USA

Image - Carl W. Ernst

Carl W. Ernst

  Co-author, I Cannot Write My Life

Image - Mbaye Lo

Mbaye Lo

  Co-author, I Cannot Write My Life

Image - Cole Thomason-Redus

Cole Thomason-Redus

San Francisco Opera Department of Diversity Equity and Community

Image - Anne W. Smith

Dr. Anne W. Smith

Co-chair, Arts Member-led Forum, Commonwealth Club of California—Moderator

Image - Taylor Raven

Taylor Raven

Singer, Performer, Omar's Mother in Omar