Artists and conductors of the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra include many of the best in the world, such as Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos, Kurt Masur, Osmo Vanska, Pinchas Zukerman, Maria Joao Pires, Nelson Freire, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Heinz Holliger, Paul Lewis, Andras Schiff, Antonio Meneses, Hilary Hahn, Emmanuel Pahud and Yuja Wang, to name just a few.
In February 2011, Marin Alsop was announced as the new Principal conductor for a period of five years, from 2012 to 2016. Brazilian conductor Celso Antunes will be Associate Conductor for the same 5-year period. Yan Pascal Tortelier, who was Principal Conductor from 2009 to 2011, will be Guest Conductor of Honor 2012-13.
With a roster of 115 orchestral musicians and 52 singers, the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra performs over 120 concerts every season at its own, magnificent Sala Sao Paulo (a restored train station, inaugurated in 1999 as a 1500-seat concert hall). It also tours in the State of Sao Paulo, throughout Brazil, and abroad (South America, North America, and Europe).
For the 2012 season, over 12,000 subscriptions have already been sold for the 35 orchestral programmes (each one repeated two or three times) as well as the 27 chamber music and choral programmes (with or without repeats). Adding all concerts - symphonic, chamber, choral; at Sala Sao Paulo, on tour, and outdoors - the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra will present a total of 282 performances from February to December 2012.
Apart from the Symphony orchestra and the Chamber and Symphonic Choirs, the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra has a Chamber Orchestra, a String Quartet, a Youth and Children's Choir, and several chamber music groups. It also hosts a piano recital series (4 programmes) with soloists who come to play with the orchestra.
The Foundation of the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra runs a publishing house (Criadores do Brasil), dedicated to the works of Brazilian composers, old and new. The Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra commissions at least 5 new works by Brazilian composers every year, and it edits about 15 scores each season. The catalogue runs to more than 100 works already.
In July 2012 it presented the Latin American premiere of its first international commission: Magnetar - Concerto for Electric Cello and Orchestra, by the Mexican composer Ernesto Chapela. A joint project with Los Angeles Philharmonic and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, it was played by Johannes Moser, with the orchestra conducted by Marin Alsop.
The São Paulo Symphony Orchestra also houses a collection of books, CDs, DVDs, and manuscripts, open daily for researchers and the public at large.
In August 2011 Osesp presented its first digital concert, conducted by Marin Alsop. It was watched by over 25,000 people in 34 different countries. It now plans a whole series of digital concerts, to be regularly broadcast from Sala São Paulo. Every programme played by the orchestra is broadcast nationwide by the educational Rádio Cultura FM (available worldwide on internet); and ten programmes are broadcast annually nationwide by Brazilian TV Cultura. Osesp runs a composer in residence program, which has recently hosted such names as Thomas Adès, Osvaldo Golijov, and Sofia Gubaidulina. In 2012, Magnus Lindberg will be the composer in residence.
Osesp's discography runs to more than 50 titles, released by BIS (internationally) and Biscoito Fino (in Brazil). In 2011 it released its first Chandos CD, with works by Florent Schmitt conducted by Yan Pascal Tortelier. A second Chandos project will be Hindemith's Requiem, conducted by Tortelier, and due for release in 2013.
Osesp has signed with Naxos to release a complete cycle of Prokofiev symphonies conducted by Marin Alsop, as well as the complete cycle of Villa-Lobos symphonies conducted by Brazilian master Isaac Karabtchevsky. The first CDs of both cycles will be released in Brazil and internationally in 2012.
Marin Alsop will also record other music with Osesp for Naxos, including Latin American and contemporary repertoire.
Educational outreach programs were attended by 87,000 children and teenagers last year alone; and over 100,000 are expected for 2012. Osesp offers several free Sunday concerts for the community, as well as a special series of early evening concerts with discount tickets.
Osesp runs its own Academy, where the top 20 young musicians from the Sistema Paulista de Música - a Brazilian equivalent of El Sistema - have regular classes with players from the orchestra and study at an apprentice program where they even play sometimes with OSESP.
Revista Osesp, a magazine with essays and program notes, is published up to 10 times a year. It also puts out special issues on composers such as Arvo Pärt, Thomas Adès, and Alfred Schnittke.