2018 Judges

PhotoThumbMatt   Zadnji portret julij 2014   PhotoThumbTine   


Matthew Lebar 


Matthew Lebar is returning to the Button Accordion Championship to lead the judges panel once again.

Matthew was born in Dolnja Bistrica, in the Prekmurje region of Slovenia in 1943. He began his musical career at the age of 16 when he started taking accordion lessons. His first band experience was playing in Triglav Orkester for about four years in the early sixties and then in his own band known as the Matt Lebar Ensemble in which he still performs today. 

Throughout the years Matt's band has enjoyed many successes across North America and the Caribbean. His band has provided backup on several occasions for Myron Floren of the well known Lawrence Welk Show fame, as well as for John Candy and Eugene Levy of the SCTV television series. The band has provided backup for singing stars from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland on North American tours.

Matt was employed by the Metro Toronto Separate School Board where he taught band music for ten years. In addition, Matt taught private classes to young Slovenian Canadians for many years. 

It is not an exaggeration to say that through his tutelage and example, Matt has inspired more young musicians to enter the music business than any other Slovenian in Canada.

Maria Ahacic Pollak

Zadnji portret julij 2014

Maria Ahacic Pollak has provided nearly five decades of leadership in the Slovenian community working towards preserving the Slovenian culture in Canada. She carried her love for Slovenian culture every step of her adult life, and on every occasion, since the very moment she first landed in this beautiful country, together with her husband.

Fluent in Slovenian, English, French, and Croatian, Maria is a proud graduate from McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, where in 1977 she earned her Bachelor of Arts, Art Major degree.

Born into a very musical family, Maria first achieved international fame as a singer in Slovenia’s most famous ensamble Avsenik. Maria has toured across Canada, the USA and Slovenia, and guest starred on Slovenian and Canadian television.  She is a music composer and lyricist as well as a recording artist with 2 popular albums.

Maria has devoted her time and expertise to numerous Slovenian cultural organizations and individuals across Slovenia and Canada, selflessly offering her support at Slovenian community events, charities and fundraisers, especially in Toronto. As founding member more than 25 years ago, Maria continues to produce and host on the CHIN Canadian radio station, Voice of Canadian Slovenia (Glas Kanadski Slovencev) in Toronto, and prior to that for many years on Slovenski Večer on 1250 AM. Maria has also provided leadership and mentorship to the Canadian Slovenian women’s choir Plamen, as conductor.  She has been a judge in Slovenia for the ”Slovenian National Button Box Championship for girls since 2010.

The Slovenian Government has recognized Maria’s cultural efforts in Slovenia and Canada by awarding her with the Order of Slovenia.  Her home town of Tržič, has also made her an honorary citizen. 

A published author of three books, Maria has captured her life’s journey from Slovenia to Canada in her most recent autobiography, where she describes her humble beginnings and life in two homelands from 1966 up until the present. 

Maria remains an instrumental individual enriching  the Slovenian community in Toronto with her passion, perfectionism, eloquence, professionalism, and elegance, always directing her efforts to the benefit of the the Slovenian community in Ontario as she continues to celebrate her adopted country, Canada.

Martin Težak


Martin Težak was born in Novo Mesto, Slovenia in 1977 and at the age of 8 he picked up the diatonic accordion for the first time. Within six months he was already performing in front of an audience. Since then he has achieved impressive success in numerous endeavours. 

Within a short span of years, Martin won the highest ranking in all international competitions for the diatonic accordion, and by 2010 achieved the ultimate World Championship in Roccagorga, Italy. Leading up to that pinnacle, Martin was European champion in both 2009 and 2010, won first place in the International Avsenik competition, and won two gold medals at the Slovenian national competitions in Ljubečna, Celje. In the same period, he won a series of top rankings in local and international competitions, received more than six awards for authorship, and was honoured for his cultural contributions.

In the Guinness Book of Records, Martin was recognized as conductor of the largest Accordion ensemble consisting of 1,137 accordionists at the Panonika Harmonika Festival in Cerklje ob Krki, in Slovenia in August 2011. Martin also holds the record for continuous accordion playing over 37 hours, during which he performed more than 450 musical pieces.

As organizer of the Accordion Games Martin hopes to encourage, inspire, and connect accordionists from around the world. In addition to bringing to fruition the Accordion Games, he has also established his longstanding vision of a world Accordion Book in which every accordion player in the world is invited to register. 

A multi-talented entrepreneur, Martin runs his own media marketing company, Smart Up. He has also established and manages a music school with several locations in Slovenia, including Novo mesto, Grosuplje, Črnomelj and Metlika. 

In addition to all the above impressive achievements, Martin has contributed new developments in the music field with his design and copyright of a unique, language-independent, musical notation system that can be used by button accordionists from anywhere in the world. Martin has also designed and patented a special model of diatonic accordion, which adds an additional key of G Minor (during bellows expansion), offering enriched musical sounds. 

© Martin Pusic 2015 - 2022