Conditions for the penetration and distribution of Christian culture throughout its wide range were created in Bulgaria with the adoption of Christianity from the Byzantine Empire. St. Tsar Boris I in 865 converted the Bulgarian people into Christianity and laid the foundation of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church /BOC/. Liturgical singing was entirely subject to the Byzantine tradition. Greek was spoken in temples and Greek priests performed Mass. Striving for national church became a national cause. The St. Brothers Cyril and Methodius appeared on the historical scene and created the Slavic alphabet and translated the liturgical books in the spoken language. Their numerous disciples became followers and distributors of their landmark case.

The flourishing of Bulgarian culture declined during the foreign invasions in the Bulgarian lands. Byzantine and later Ottoman rule for centuries hindered the cultural development of the Bulgarian nation. Many architectural, literary and musical monuments were destroyed. After the liberation from Ottoman rule in 1878 flourishing of all the arts and the whole society began. Along with Eastern Church singing in Bulgaria a new type of music making appeared - polyphonic choral singing that was brought and distributed by Russian troops. This gave a powerful impetus to further development not only of church singing, but also of secular choral music. Liturgical singing in BOC was enriched with beautiful spiritual works by famous Russian composers Dm. Bortnyanski, M. Berezovsky, Artemy Vedely, St. Degtyarev, Gr. Lomakin, P. Tchaikovsky, P. Chesnokov, A. Arhangelski, N. R. Korsakov, A. Grechaninov, A. Kastalski, N. Bahmetev, S. Rahmaninov and many others. Bulgarian composers also began to write church music like the Russian classics. The more popular of them are: Atanas Badev, Dobri hristov, Petar Dinev, Apostol Nikolaev, Hristo Manolov, Makariopolski Bishop Dr. Nikolai Kozhuharov etc.


”Yoan Kukuzel - the Angel-Voiced” Ensemble, created by a group of enthusiasts in the fall of 1967 is the f i r s t performer, which performed the Bulgarian Orthodox ancient chants on the concert stage in Bulgaria and abroad. In its concert and recording activity the Ensemble also gives its effort in the search and recovery of ancient musical pieces, which for the most part are not only the first records, but also the f i r s t performances of ancient melodies nowadays. The merits of the Ensemble in praise of the name of its patron and the Bulgarian church chants are invaluable for both Bulgarian and the European and world art. Its presentation at the international early music festivals in Paris, Avignon, Old Sącz, Edinburgh, Bydgoszcz, Czestochowa, Rome, Haynuvka, Prague, Krakow, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Novi Sad, Belgrade ... are an indisputable proof of international reputation and prestige.

The Chamber Ensemble ”Yoan Kukuzel - the Angel-Voiced” was the first Ensemble invited to give a series of Orthodox Church concerts in Orthodox Russia on the occasion of 1000 years of the adoption of Christianity there. And last but not least, the Ensemble included in the next Berlin Festival became an immediate witness and participant in the remarkable for Germany and the German people 3 October 1989.
Besides concert and recording activity, the Chamber Ensemble is often sought to perform musical illustrations at scientific conferences and symposia, educational and scientific programs on the national radio and television. Its performances sound in historical films. The choir is known in Switzerland as a precise participant in the concert performances of the opera “Oedipus Rex” by Igor Stravinsky and for its participation in the opera productions of the opera “Parsifal” by R.Vagner at Bern theatre.
For its performing mastery the Ensemble was awarded the highest honor to give concerts in the palace of “Hovburg” for the Austrian president; in Rome – for the Italian president. The chanters sang to His Holiness Pope JOHN PAUL II in his official office in the Vatican /1982/; during his public audience on San Pietro Square to many thousands of pilgrims from all over the world /23 May 1985/ and in the autumn of the same year in the representative hall of the Vatican “Paul VI” and in the Basilica “San Pietro”. They sing to him 20 years later during the historical first visit of Roman Catholic Pope in Orthodox Bulgaria.

The audience on the island of Cyprus, Greece, Serbia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, France, Portugal, the island of Malta, Italy, Belgium enjoyed the concerts of the Chamber Ensemble, as well. The Ensemble has visited most of them many times.

On 30 November 2006 ”Yoan Kukuzel - the Angel-Voiced” Chamber Ensemble was invited to perform in the church “Santa Maria Maggiore” in Rome in connection with the adoption of Bulgaria's accession to the European Union. The Vatican Radio recorded the concert and made a commemorative CD documenting this remarkable for our country event.
Having mastered the art of singing tradition, kept alive, “Yoan Kukuzel - the Angel-Voiced” Vocal Ensemble seeks authenticity also by reproducing medieval sensibility because church music is philosophy in sounds and each piece of its own is in search of greatness in the world and the meaning of human existence.

We will find productive recording activity in the Ensemble history - 5 vinyl LPs, 5 audio cassettes and 7 CD, which undeniably gives the basis for music critics to say that the chorus is AN INSPIRED PROPAGANDIST OF AESTHETICS AND ETHICS OF ORTHODOX CHURCH MUSIC!!!