In order to achieve the maximum flexibility and homogeneity in its performances, a choir does not usually have recourse to a group of soloists in its midst.
In 1971, when Zdravko Mihaylov founded THE GREAT VOICES OF BULGARIA Mixed Choir (a.k.a. Ensemble Vocal Bulgare / Mixed Choir of Sofia) his intention was to change that tradition. In fact, he worked hard to collect together into a well – knit formation the great voices -male and female - of classical Bulgarian soloists and to enable them to attain the highest artistic level, both on the plane of cohesion and sensitivity in performance.
Today, 40 years later due to the quality and artistic sense of the singers and his authority as director, the result of this vocal fashioning is undeniably successful, making of them one of the most respected choir institutions in the world.
THE GREAT VOICES OF BULGARIA Mixed Choir has extensively toured Europe, Russia, and North America, participated in major music festivals, has recorded for BBC Radio 3, Radio France, Radio Köln, Radio Suisse Romande, has realized more than 15 albums for the labels Auvidis, Naïve and Diamonds, and in 1991 won the Grand Prix de Disque at MIDEM in Cannes.
Today, they are mostly known for their interpretation of Orthodox Church music, although they do not limit themselves only to that repertoire.
Since 1999 Ilia Mihaylov is the Music Director of THE GREAT VOICES OF BULGARIA Mixed Choir.
Highlights of their artistic activities include performing in the Kremlin, in Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, and in the St. Peter Monastery at the Moscow Easter Festival following the invitation of Valery Gergiev, touring Canada and setting a box office record, as one of their concerts had 10 000 tickets sold.
In 2005, the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs selected Mr. Mihaylov and THE GREAT VOICES OF BULGARIA to produce two albums, Anthology and The Treasures of Bulgaria which were to become the country’s official gift for the occasion of its joining The European Union.
In 2010 the French TV channel MEZZO made a documentary about THE GREAT VOICES OF BULGARIA for their prestigious series The Choirs of Europe, a very high honor as only ten emblematic choirs are to be featured.
In 1998 they recorded music by the Japanese composer Yasunori Mitsuda for Xenogears, a console role-playing game developed and published by Square for Sony's PlayStation. Xenogears was voted the 16th best video game of all time and has shipped 1.19 million copies worldwide. An Original Soundtrack was published in Japan by the DigiCube label.
During the first three decades of their existence, THE GREAT VOICES OF BULGARIA Mixed Choir worked for major opera houses in Europe such as Opéra National de Lyon, Grand Théâtre de Genève, Opéra National de Bordeaux, L’Opéra de Nice, L'Opéra d'Avignon performing works of Wagner, Verdi, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky Prokofiev, and collaborating with conductors such as Murizio Arena and Horst Stein.