As Celtic Connections widens its audience in many directions, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall welcomed another demographic when the Asian community turned out in droves, and in cross-generational family units, to welcome a man whose music sales dwarf those of the biggest Western pop stars.
The festival's busy big band, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, were broadcasting live on the BBC's Asian Network as presenter Bobby Friction introduced a big programme of music that covered the gamut of composer A R Rahman's work for the Bollywood and Hollywood screen, and for the stage, with a sequence from his music for Matthew Warchus and Shaun McKenna's musical version of The Lord of the Rings, due to be revived for a world tour next year.
That piece, and much else, featured often wordless vocals from a specially-assembled choir drawn from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Rahman's own Sistema-style music academy in Chennai, India, which the orchestra will visit on its forthcoming tour with Nicola Benedetti. Then the music will be Tchaikovsky, Mozart and Mendelssohn, but here there was only one name that mattered, whether on the credits of Danny Boyle's 127 Hours or countless Bollywood classics. Conductor and arranger Matt Dunkley was joined by vocal soloists and Indian flute specialist Lisa Mallett at the front of the stage, while SSO principles like trumpeter Mark O'Keefe and cellist Martin Storey had their own moments in the spotlight - including a rare collective bow from Scott Dickinson's viola section.
But the highlight for everyone present was the appearance of the composer himself, replacing Lynda Cochrane at the piano for a duo improvisation with sitarist Asad Khan as part of a suite from the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire.