The Bulgarian State Television Female Vocal Choir, known all over the world as LE MYSTÈRE DES VOIX BULGARES, is an ensemble with a rare artistic gift and enormous popular appeal. Its story is a story of a success.
Created 50 years ago, its goal was to enrich the heritage of the Bulgarian solo folk song with harmonies and arrangements that highlighted its beautiful timbres and irregular rhythms. Their concerts were broadcast, first over the radio, later on television.
They transform sounds into strange vocal colors, as if something other than the human voice, perhaps some strange instrument, is playing. They jubilate, shout, ornament, form fast and perfect glissandos, let one crazy rhythm follow another, and make their voices build the most daring chords. And suddenly the folk cliché no longer applies. One listener believes he has heard "an archaic world of sounds from times long ago", another "the marriage of avant-garde and the middle ages".
With their bell-like voices that seam to float lightly through space, these women have become international stars, whose hypnotic chant circles the globe. These mystic voices have managed countless times to dissolve the separation between East and West, of young and old, of pop music and classical tunes.
The choir's success in North America began in 1988 with the release of Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, Volume I on Elektra Nonesuch Records. The recording rose to Billboard's Top 200 chart, prompting the ensemble's first North American concert tour. In 1990, the choir returned for a month of concerts and media appearances, including coverage on ABC's World News Tonight, NBC's Nightly News and the "Tonight" and "Today" shows. Since then its audience has grown to encompass aficionados of vocal music and opera as well as folk, ethnic music, and rock fans. Among the choir's admirers are Linda Ronstadt, Paul Simon, Pat Metheny, Bobby McFerrin, and Midori.
The year 1990 also saw the release of Volume II of Le Mystère, which earned the choir a Grammy award. The two volumes to date have garnered sales of more than a quarter of a million recordings, and have led to further coast-to-coast tours in major concert halls and college auditoriums. The choir's unique and eerily beautiful sound has become a popular complement for a wide range of artistic endeavors, including soundtracks and modern dance choreography.
Elektra Nonesuch also released Ritual, featuring music from religious and celebratory occasions. It was honored with a Grammy nomination in 1994.