The Mystery of Bulgarian Voices
The Mystery of Bulgarian Voices was created fifty years ago, its goal to enrich the heritage of the Bulgarian solo folk song with harmonies and arrangement that highlighted its beautiful timbres and irregular rhythms. The singers transform sounds into strange vocal colors as if something other than the human voice. With their bell-like voices that seem to float lightly through space, these women have become international stars, whose hypnotic chant circles the globe.
Areas of Representation: North and South America
The Mystery of Bulgarian Voices is an ensemble of a rare artistic gift and enormous popular appeal. Its story is that of a success. Created fifty years ago, its goal was to enrich the heritage of the Bulgarian solo folk song with harmonies and arrangement that highlighted its beautiful timbres and irregular rhythms.
The singers transform sounds into strange vocal colors as if something other than the human voice. They jubilate, shout, ornament, form fast and perfect glissandos, let one crazy rhythm follow another and make their voices build the most darling cords. Suddenly the folk cliché no longer applies. With their bell-like voices that seam to float lightly trough 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 world became aware of their art thanks to Mr. Marcel Cellier, a Swiss producer, who started releasing albums under the name “Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares”. The first album was published in 1975. Their sophomore effort won a Grammy in 1990. Rituals was released by Nonesuch and nominated for a Grammy in 1994. The group has toured with much fanfare throughout Europe, America, and Asia.
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[The 1987 release, Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares,] cracked open a whole sonic world largely unknown beyond the Balkans, full of gorgeous dissonances and fierce, sung-out emotion… Soon these women from all over Bulgaria became international stars, with their plushly layered, plangent voices weaving together Bulgarian dissonance and Western European-style choral singing. – NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO
Then came what sounded like a religious chant, which was interrupted by whooping and howling, delicate quartet work and an exquisite lament from Binka Dobreva, with subtle and pained backing from the choir. These women are thrilling, unworldly and compelling. — THE GUARDIAN
Formed in 1952 as the Bulgarian State Radio and Television Female Vocal Choir (but known since the ’80s by this considerably sexier name, [Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares] originally an album title), this group performs complex modern arrangements of traditional Bulgarian folk and Byzantine liturgical styles. The concept is high, but the effect of the pungently close harmonies and intense percussive yips is immediate and transcendent. — NY TIMES
The popularity of Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares is related to the more recent success of the Benedictine monks of Santo Domingo de Silos, whose first album of Gregorian chant went platinum in the 1990s. This image of innocence is more romantic than factually accurate; what groups like the Voix Bulgares offer are contemporary reconstructions or reinterpretations of folk traditions as much as the traditions themselves. — WASHINGTON POST
Their renditions of old Bulgarian folk songs about harvests, illness and God are tear-jerking, emotional and profound, but delivered with smiling faces and unexpected humour. — THE GUARDIAN
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