2021 Event Highlights


2021 World Cup on the Accordion Virtual Polka Championship 

The 2020 global pandemic disrupted the lives and plans for everyone around the world, including for the Button Akordion Rocks Club organizing committee. Faced with the challenge, we  pivoted our  event strategy and came up with a creative alternative for hosting the 2020 World Cup on the Accordion Polka Championship.  The show must go on as they say and that is what happened, in the form of a virtual championship, exactly one year later on August 2, 2021.

Solo musicians on the diatonic and piano accordion were invited to compete for the world cup.  There was also a separate domestic category for Canadian polka band to compete in.

A group of international contestants ranging in age from 11 to 70+ hailing from Canada, the United States of America, the Netherlands, and Slovenia, participated in the virtual competition. Here are the qualifying musicians and their impressive achievements:

Danaja Grebenc from Slovenia, earning the highest score in her age group as well as becoming overall champion

Kevin van den Eijnden from the Netherlands, earning the highest score in his age group and 2nd place overall

Aljaž Mauko from Slovenia, achieving 3nd place overall in the competition

Mark Marentic from Canada, earning the highest score in his age group, plus a close 4th place overall

Josie Marentic from Canada 

Natalie Marentic from Canada, earning the highest score in her age group

Gašper Štajnar from Slovenia, earning the highest score in his age group on the piano accordion. Gašper competed on both the diatonic accordion and piano accordion categories

Sally Ann M. Smiell from the United States of America 

Zala Praper Šipek from Slovenia and the youngest contestant, earning the highest score in her age group

Zlatko Mohorič from Slovenia

Chris Beckley from the United States of America 

Schnefsky, a.k.a. Geoffrey Swift from Canada 

Ansambel Mladi Kanadčani (Laura Kuri, Matthew Kuri, Jonathon Gregorič, and Niko Gregorič) from Canada.

Special acknowledgement goes to three members and two generations of the Marentic family. Mark Marentic participated not only in the latest competition but also in the 2016 and 2018 championships – the latter of which he won 1st place as the Canadian domestic champion. This year Mark also convinced his wife Josie and daughter Natalie to join the competition where they demonstrated the impressive musical talent that runs in their family. 

We are also immensely proud of the local Ansambel Mladi Kanadčani comprised of the talented Laura Kuri, Matthew Kuri, Jonathon Gregorič, and Niko Gregorič who share a Canadian- Slovenian heritage that has been nurtured by their respective families. Music is definitely in their DNA!

The judging panel included international representation of well-known and popular musicians in their respective countries: Matthew Lebar from Canada, Alex Meixner from the U.S.A., and Klemen Rošer from Slovenia. 

Masters of Ceremonies: Melodie Šuštar, Janez Smrekar, and Adrianna Šuštar provided excellent introductions of the performers and entertained the audience with their witty banter throughout the virtual program. 

The Button Akordion Rocks Club extends sincere thanks to our sponsors for their financial support. We are especially grateful to Moya Financial and the Government of the Republic of Slovenia Office of Slovenians Abroad for their generous cultural grants. Thank you also to Ridley Funeral Home, Condus Electric, Rio General Construction, and Long & McQuade who have consistently supported our musical events over the last few years.

Thank you also to the producers of Radio Glas Kanadskih Slovencev in Toronto for their enthusiastic advertising of the Button Akordion Rocks Club events on their program.

In all creative and artistic productions there are champions performing in front of the camera and there are also very talented individuals with special technical skills behind the camera – people who work outside of the spotlight, pulling the levers, performing the magic show.  We acknowledge Adrianna Šuštar and Danny Šuštar for their extraordinary work in assembling and managing all the media components of a virtual competition that people were able to participate in and enjoy from the comfort of their homes. 

On behalf of the Button Akordion Rocks organizing committee (Martin Pusic, Majda Pusic, Franca Anderson, Tanja Trigiani, Danny Šuštar, Adrianna Šuštar, Matthew Lebar, and Klemen Rošer) we would like to thank all who participated, contributed, supported, or tuned in for this event. We wish everyone excellent health and peace in the New Year 2022 and hope you will join us at our future musical events.

Watch the full program event and individual performances here.

© Martin Pusic 2015 - 2022