Bodan Arsovski, Kokan Dimushevski, Vlatko Stefanovski and Garabet Tavitjan decorated with the Order of Merit for the Republic of North Macedonia

26 July 2023 | Press Releases, Speeches

At a special ceremony held tonight in the Presidential Office, President Stevo Pendarovski awarded the Order of Merit for the Republic of North Macedonia to Bodan Arsovski, Kokan Dimushevski, Vlatko Stefanovski and Garabet Tavitjan for their extraordinary, autochthonous and unique musical work within the jazz-rock band Leb I Sol (Bread and Salt, tn) – as its leaders, they left lasting values in modern Macedonian music and contributed to the affirmation of Macedonian music and culture all over the world, as was the case with their significant solo achievements.

At the award ceremony, President Pendarovski underlined that the music, the opus and the lifetime achievement of Vlatko Stefanovski, Bodan Arsovski, Kokan Dimushevski and Garabet Tavitjan are a national legacy which has long been incorporated in the cultural and social DNA of our country, of the Macedonian people and of all our citizens.

„Your music, dear laureates, has gained mythical dimensions in the depth of the Macedonian soul, for it is a cultural heritage that generations of Macedonians identified with, grew up with and are still living with” said President Pendarovski.

 Dear guests,

Dear friends,

Почитувани гости,

Драги пријатели,

Tonight, we welcomed you with bread and salt, a tradition existing not only here, but in many other peoples – Nordic, Baltic, Jewish, Albanians, all over the Balkans. Wherever it exists, that tradition signifies one thing – that guests are welcome.

However, in our case, in the Macedonian language, this expression has another, additional meaning. To us, Leb I Sol (Bread and Salt, tn) signifies a cult, a category, an institution with supranational significance and a character that goes beyond the limits of time.

We are talking about the music, the opus, the lifetime work of Vlatko Stefanovski, Bodan Arsovski, Kokan Dimushevski and Garabet Tavitjan. We are talking about a national heritage which has long been incorporated in the cultural and social DNA of our country, our Macedonian people and all our citizens.

Tonight, all of us present here, as well as those following the livestream, we gathered to pay tribute and say thank you to our Skopje foursome for placing our country high on the global map of artistic achievements.

Your music, dear laureates, has gained mythical dimensions in the depth of the Macedonian soul, for it is a cultural heritage that generations of Macedonians identified with, grew up with and are still living with.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The first album by Leb I Sol, published back in 1978, defined them as undeniable musical virtuosos and pioneers in what the critics qualified as “world music fusion” – a combination of rock, jazz and traditional Macedonian rhythms, creating a music that went far beyond the limits of time.

Almost half a century ago, Leb I Sol established themselves as our national pride and category, a status that they have effortlessly kept throughout the years and until this day.

In the 90s, the members of the band ventured into solo careers, collaborating with exquisite musicians from the entire world, expanding their musical horizons but remaining faithful to their ethnic heritage and national spirit without which is would be impossible to leave a trace at the global level.

Dear guests,

In these past few years, provoked by those who are not sure of their own identity, we spent so much time debating the national identity of us as Macedonians, although it has been shaped since the dawn of times.

In this sense, among the numerous and undeniable arguments about who we are as Macedonians, it would suffice to quote the musical work and legacy of Leb I Sol, which continue to inspire even in the 21 century, pushing musicians to explore new horizons while respecting their own roots.

Ask any young person discovering the world of music for the first time, whether they know the guitar intro by Vlatko in “Bistra Voda”, the fretless bass line by Bodan in the same song, the arrangements by Kokan in “Uchi me majko, karaj me” or the 7/8 rhythms of Garo when his drums tear across the skies.

The journey of “Leb I Sol” from Skopje to an internationally renowned music band is proof of the power of their musical expression which goes far beyond national borders. Through the specific mixes of the heritage of our nation and the planetary music influences, Leb I Sol not only enriched the cultural identity of the Macedonian society, but they also gave an essential contribution to the development of music globally.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the end, allow me to take this opportunity and publicly address the four legends here with us tonight. Your professional portfolio is enough for ten such decorations – however, all of us, and especially young generations living in these complex and difficult times, need a new album from you, in this format.

Think about it!

Thank you.

 

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