Despite stubborn and often heavy rain Saturday evening, thousands attended internationally renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma’s free concert on the New Haven Green.

With his Silk Road Ensemble, Ma performed music inspired by the historic trade route’s “exchange of art, ideas and innovations between cultures for two thousand years,” festival organizers wrote in a statement.

The show was the ensemble’s first in Connecticut and headlined the opening night of New Haven’s annual Arts and Ideas Festival.

Due to persistent rain showers, the festival’s directors were considering canceling Ma’s performance. But after consultation with meteorologists and the ensemble’s musicians, they decided to let the show go on as scheduled, executive director of the festival Mary Lou Aleskie said in a statement on the festival’s website.

“So pull out your rain boots, grab an umbrella, dress for cool weather and come on out!” Aleskie said.

The festival, which consists of concerts, lectures, film screenings and tours, will last until June 25.

Also on the 2011 festival lineup are sitarist Ravi Shankar and New York Times technology columnist David Pogue. Check out the full lineup here.

Watch a clip of the performance here: