A Bollywood superstar is backing Birmingham's bid to become European Capital of Culture in 2008.
AR Rahman is backing Birmingham's city of culture bid
Madras maestro AR Rahman - possibly the biggest name in the Indian music industry - is teaming up with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
Rahman has achieved superstar status through his Bollywood music, and is reported to be the world's biggest selling living artist - with album sales of more than 40 million - and many more tapes of film music sold.
His first major work outside India was for Lord Lloyd-Webber, writing the score for the West End musical Bollywood Dreams - which is now set to open on Broadway.
The creator of many top West End musicals said: "AR Rahman is nothing short of a melodic genius."
He was in Birmingham on Thursday to promote his partnership with the CBSO.
AR Rahman with Lord Lloyd-Webber, Preeya Kalidas and Raza Jaffrey
Rahman will conduct for the CBSO and will compose a new orchestral piece for the orchestra to receive its world premiere next summer.
The new orchestral work will be based on "The Conference of the Birds", an Asian classic by the 12th Century poet Farid ud-Din Attar from Nishapur.
There will also be projects involving young people in a continuing collaboration with the CBSO and mac arts centre over a number of years.
'Large following internationally'
"Birmingham has an excellent reputation as a multi-cultural city and the CBSO is one of the world's best orchestras.
"Symphony Hall too is a fantastic place. I am thrilled to be working here," said Rahman.
CBSO chief executive Stephen Maddock said: "We have a long tradition of working with the most exciting composers and musicians of our day.
"It's a particular thrill to be working with AR Rahman who has such a large following internationally."