Bulgarian State Television Female Vocal Choir

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Bulgarian State Television Female Vocal Choir
Background information
Also known as Bulgarian State Radio and Television Female Vocal Choir, Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares
Genres Folk, World Music
Years active 1952–present
Labels Disques Cellier, Nonesuch, 4AD, Polygram, Rhino
Associated acts Trio Bulgarka, Angelite - The Bulgarian Voices

The Bulgarian State Television Female Vocal Choir is an internationally renowned World Music ensemble that performs modern arrangements of traditional melodies. It is most recognized under their contribution to Marcel Cellier's Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares project. First created as the Bulgarian State Radio and Television Female Vocal Choir in Bulgaria in 1952 by Georgi Boyadjiev, the choir is now under the direction of Dora Hristova.

Singers are chosen from country villages for the beauty and openness of their voices, and they undergo extensive training in the unique, centuries-old singing style. Influenced by Bulgaria's Thracian, Bulgarian, Ottoman and Byzantine history, their music is striking in its use of diaphonic singing and distinctive timbre, as well as its modal scales and dissonant harmonies (abundant second, seventh, and ninth intervals).

Though the choir became widely known when the trend-setting English alternative record label 4AD reissued a pair of anthology albums in 1986 and 1988 with the now famous title Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, their recordings date as far back as 1957. The first pressing of the Voix Bulgares album was the result of fifteen years of work by Swiss ethnomusicologist and producer Marcel Cellier and was originally released in 1975 on his small Discs Cellier label. Ivo Watts-Russell (founder of 4AD) was introduced to the choir from a third or fourth generation audio cassette lent to him by Peter Murphy, singer from the band Bauhaus. He became thoroughly entranced by the music, and tracked down and licensed the recordings from Cellier. The group has since performed extensively around the world to wide acclaim and were honored with a Grammy Award in 1990 for their second album.

Three prominent soloists of the group have also performed together as the Trio Bulgarka, notably on the Kate Bush albums The Sensual World and The Red Shoes. The whole ensemble performed with the Italian rock band Elio e Le Storie Tese in the single Pipppero off the album Italyan, rum casusu çikti.


  • 1966 Music of Bulgaria, The Ensemble of the Bulgarian Republic (re-released in 1990, recorded in 1955)
  • 1975 Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, Compilation, Disques Cellier
  • 1987 Cathedral Concert (Live), PolyGram (re-released in 1992)
  • 1988 Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, volume II, Disques Cellier
  • 1989 Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, volume III, Disques Cellier
  • 1993 From Bulgaria with Love: the Pop Album, Rhino/Atlantic
  • 1993 Melody Rhythm & Harmony, Rhino/Atlantic
  • 1994 Ritual, Nonesuch/Elektra
  • 1995 Box Set: Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, volumes 1 - II and Ritual, Nonesuch/Elektra
  • 1998 Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, volume IV, Philips
  • 2001 Bulgarian Custom Songs, Gega
  • 2003 A Portrait of Nikolai Kaufmann, Riva Sound / KVZ Music Ltd.
  • 2008 Music From Alone in the Dark, composed by Olivier Derivière, Milan Records
  • 2013 Angelina, Jaro 4310-2

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