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The São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, which was founded in 1954 by João de Sousa Lima, today ranks as Brazil’s leading musical ensemble, giving some 200 concerts each season. Following the Italian Bruno Roccella, the Brazilian conductor and composer Eleazar de Carvalho took over artistic leadership for 24 years, until his death in 1996. He was succeeded by John Neschling (1997–2008), during whose tenure the Orchestra acquired a new concert hall (the Sala São Paulo), and by Yan Pascal Tortelier. Since 2012 Marin Alsop has helmed the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra as Music Director; her contract has since been extended to 2019. In past years the Orchestra has toured regularly across South America and to the United States and Europe, where, most recently, during a tour in 2013, the musicians performed at the Salle Pleyel in Paris, London’s Royal Festival Hall, and the Philharmonie in Berlin. The São Paulo Symphony Orchestra works with leading conductors and soloists: in the 2015-16 season, these included such names as James Gaffigan, Heinz Holliger, Isaac Karabtchevsky, Alexander Liebreich, Juraj Valčuha, and Thomas Zehetmair on the podium; the cellist Sol Gabetta; the percussionist Colin Currie; and the pianists Khatia Buniatishvili, Paul Lewis, Gabriela Montero, and Fazıl Say. In 2016 the alto and conductor Nathalie Stutzmann was appointed to a three-year term as Associate Artist. Through “Discover the Orchestra,” the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra pursues a comprehensive education program that annually introduces 70,000 youngsters to classical music. Their educational efforts similarly include an orchestral and a choral academy, as well as the composer project “Criadores do Brazil.”