They are The Mystery of Bulgarian Voices, while their French name, “Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares”, might be more famous, for a reason. Today’s version of the women’s choir is embarking on a rather big tour through the United States of America.
Almost all over the U.S., their audiences will most likely consist of Bulgarians living in the States, as well as intellectual Americans with an interest in European culture. One thing is certain: They will fascinate their audiences. They always have.
The choir’s original name might sound less sensational: “The Bulgarian State Television Female Vocal Choir”. Whoever came up with that one, in the communist Bulgaria of 1957, hopefully regrets it by now, 60 years later. Actually, in 1952, the singing ladies were known as the “Ensemble for Folk Songs of the Bulgarian Radio”, which does not sound very different.
But then the Swiss came along. When the ethnomusicologist, producer and radio show host Marcel Cellier was done with them, they carried the name “Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares”, which became official in 1997. He released an album for them on a small record label, Cellier Records, in 1975. A recording entitled “Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, Volume Two”, released in 1989, even got a Grammy Award.
Marcel Cellier, who died in 2013, also produced the Romanian pan flute hero Gheorghe Zamfir.
The choir singers, new generations of whom have joined The Mystery of Bulgarian Voices over the years and decades, are being chosen in Bulgarian villages. Apart from their voices, their beauty counts as well. Then they are being trained in the singing style the choir uses, which is centuries old. It includes a distinctive timbre and dissonant harmonies.
Now the Bulgarian women’s choir is about to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a metal object shaped like a bird. In the U.S., they will hit stages eight times, from “Los Angelis” (that is how they spelled it on their website before reading this article) in sunny California, to “Prinston” in windy New Jersey. These are their U.S. gigs:
April 13, 2017: Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA
April 14, 2017: World Music BOS, Cambridge, MA
April 15, 2017: Reston Community Center, Reston, VA
April 17, 2017: Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
April 19, 2017: Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago, IL
April 22, 2017: Earshot, Seattle, WA
April 26, 2017: Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, CA
April 28, 2017: Disney Hall, Los Angeles, CA
It is their first tour since 2015. In September of 2017, the Voices will hit stages in Belgium.