The Bulgarian State Television Female Vocal Choir is an internationally renowned World Music ensemble that performs modern arrangements of traditional Bulgarian folk melodies. It is most recognized for its contribution to Marcel Cellier's Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares (The Mystery Of The Bulgarian Voices) project. First created in 1952 as the Ensemble for Folk Songs of the Bulgarian Radio by Georgi Boyadjiev, the choir is now under the direction of Dora Hristova. The choir was granted the name Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares by Marcel Cellier in 1997, in recognition of the fact that it had contributed most of the songs on the original compilations.
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, the founder of the 4AD Records label, 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. They were one of four choirs who appeared on the album Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, Volume Two, which won Cellier a Grammy Award in 1989. The group has since performed extensively around the world to wide acclaim.