2018 Event Highlights

The 2018 Canadian Slovenian Button Accordion Championship 🏆 was a great success and received overwhelmingly positive feedback by all attendees from far and wide! 🇨🇦🇸🇮🇺🇸

We’re very pleased to share with you a short highlight video of the weekend’s festivities and thank the musical community for their enthusiasm and support.

Musicians of all ages, experience and skill gathered together to participate in the 2018 Canadian Slovenian Button Accordion Championship, organized by the Button Akordion Rocks Club, and hosted by Simon Gregorčič Cultural Association  in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada, on August 4th and 5th, 2018. 


Atomik Harmonik

More than 60 accordionists provided entertainment on stage and off for appreciative fans. It was one of the largest assemblies of button accordion musicians ever seen by the Canadian Slovenian community. Musical artists came from all corners of Ontario and abroad. A delegation of twenty-one individuals comprised of ‘button akordion rockers’ and their family members came all the way from Slovenia for this championship event. 

Also travelling from Slovenia was the hugely popular, high-energy band Atomik Harmonik who had the crowds raising dust on the dance floor late into the night on both Saturday and Sunday.

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Oldest and youngest musicians:
Ivan Udovic and Bernard Žan Viršek

In addition to the dozens of musicians who participated in the two-day program as contestants, showcasers, concert performers, and headliners, many others came along to provide support to family members or friends. Hundreds more came simply to enjoy the sights and sounds of a beautiful mid-summer, long weekend and to mingle with like-minded aficionados of the button accordion. 

The wide range in ages of musicians was a good indication of the timeless popularity and coolness factor of the button accordion. The youngest musician in attendance was 8-year-old Bernard Žan Viršek, while the oldest was ninety-year-old Ivan Udovic

Throughout the weekend, contestants were found in different corners of the park, practicing their songs and limbering up as they waited for their turn to perform in front of the judges. Showcasers were also seen and heard serenading family and friends before being called on stage for their moment in the spotlight.

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Randy Dresar & Darja Antolin Dresar

The preliminary round of judging began on Saturday morning in the Primorski Dom hall, where friends, fans and visitors were able to listen to the contestants as they tried their best to dazzle the judges. The group of hopeful contestants played their hearts out for a chance to win championship titles and awards in a number of categories. In the afternoon, the entertainment program moved outside to the external stage, where all musicians, both contestants and non-contestants were invited to showcase their talent before an enthusiastic audience. 

The afternoon formal entertainment program included concerts by popular local talents such as Canadian accordion virtuoso Michael Bridge, Polka Maestre Tony Jalovec, the Niagara Button Boxers, and Peter Kralj (2016 Canadian Slovenian domestic Button Accordion Adult Champion).

Accordion Parade

Accordion Parade

On the second day of the championship event, the semi-finalists performed before the judges once again inside the hall.  In the afternoon, the formal entertainment program was kicked off with an accordion parade winding down the hill towards the external stage around which the musicians gathered and played the well-known song ‘V Dolini Tihi’. World button accordion champion, Martin Težak performed beautiful renditions of the Canadian and Slovenian national anthems on his button accordion. 

Martin Pusic President

Martin Pusic, President
Button Akordion Rocks Club

Martin Pusic, President and founding member of the Button Akordion Rocks Club welcomed all musicians, performers, contestants, showcasers, judges, guests and visitors. 

He thanked the many volunteers and especially the organizing committee key contributors for the enormous amount of work that went into planning, organizing and delivering this ambitious project: Franca (Drozina) Anderson, Leslie Brlec, Tanja Trigiani, Majda Pusic, Sarah Larsen, Matthew Lebar, Miran Vamberger, David Pusic, Andraz Nanut, Sonja Vidovic, Darja Antolin Dresar, and Randy Dresar.  

Special thanks were expressed to Simon Gregorcic Club president, Brian Jenko, and his hard working club members who made sure the kitchen and bar provided an abundance of delicious food and refreshments throughout the weekend. Martin also thanked the additional cooperating clubs and organizations that provided hospitality, support and assistance in various ways: Dom Lipa, Hunters and Anglers Club (Lovska Farma), Lipa Park Club, Sava Club, Canadian Slovenian Historical Society, and Slovenski Dom.

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Dr. Marjan Cencen, Ambassador

Mr. John Doma, Honorary Consul General

It was a very special honour to invite onto the stage, Ambassador Marjan Cencen from the Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia in Ottawa, and Honorary Consul General John Doma, who addressed the audience with encouraging words emphasizing the importance of preserving our cultural heritage and identity by organizing, hosting, and supporting unique cultural events such as this.

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Judges Matthew Lebar
Martin Težak
Maria Ahacic Pollack

The contestants that made it to the final round were invited onto the external stage to perform one last time for the judges and wider audience. Our esteemed judges Maria Ahacic Pollak, Matthew Lebar, and Martin Težak faced a challenging task of choosing the best from amongst an impressive and captivating group of contestants. 

The afternoon program included a concert by Jonathon Gregoric (2016 Canadian Slovenian Button Accordion Youth Champion) and the Gregoric Ansambel, a concert by world champion button accordionist Martin Težak and his music school students from Slovenia, and a concert by the local Irish Ulster Accordion orchestra counting almost two-dozen musicians. 

Lipa Park Drama Club

Lipa Park Drama Club

Lipa Park Drama Club performed two hilarious short skits, written, directed and introduced by Francka Seljak, one of the founding members of Simon Gregorcic Club. 

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Tournament Champions
Canadian Domestic Champions

Lead judge, Matthew Lebar presided over the awards presentation. The 2018 overall tournament champion in the youth category was Blaž Težak from Metlika, Slovenia. The tournament champion in the adult category was David Starašinič from Krasinec, Slovenia.

The Canadian domestic champions were Mark Marentic in the adult category, Jonathon Gregoric in the youth category, and Vida Godina in the best female category. First, second and third place runners-up, by age group were also awarded cups and medals.

Congratulations to all the participating musicians from Canada and abroad for their showmanship, positive spirit and courage:

Sue Augustin from the Niagara region of Ontario
Zdravko Augustin, from the Niagara region of Ontario
Luka Ban from Novo Mesto, Slovenia
Michael Bridge, from Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Valentin Brinevec, from Midland, Ontario, Canada
Jože Cesnik from Maple, Ontario, Canada. Born in Palčje in the region of Postojna, Slovenia 
Julie Cesnik from Maple, Ontario, Canada. Born in the city of Opava in the Czech Republic
Vida Godina from Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Jonathon Gregoric from Caledon, Ontario, Canada
Tony Jalovec from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. Born in Brežice, Slovenia
Joe Keber from Whitby, Ontario, Canada
Peter Kralj from London, Ontario, Canada
Jesse Daniel Kumer from Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Mark Marentic from Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Joe Mavec from Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. Born in Gorenje Blato, near Skofljica, Slovenia
Ronald Terence Russell from Campbellford, Ontario, Canada
Heiner Schwendemann from Germany, currently performing across the USA and Canada
David Starašinič from Krasinec, Slovenia
Blaž Težak from Metlika, Slovenia
Martin Težak from Metlika, Slovenia
Gašper Štajnar from Škofljica, Slovenia
Primož Štajnar from Škofljica, Slovenia
Ivan Udovic from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Born in Sabonje, Slovenija 
Dennis Uhlik from Woodstock, Ontario, Canada
Derek Uhlik from Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
Sandra Verbič from Novo Mesto, Slovenia
Bernard Žan Viršek from Medvedica, near Grosuplje, Slovenia
Dominik Vid Viršek from Medvedica, near Grosuplje, Slovenia
Marjan Zejn from Concord, Ontario, Canada. Born in Col, Ajdovščina, Slovenia
Louis Zelko from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Born in Gornji Suhor pri Metliki, Slovenia
Aljaž Zelnikar from Mala Vas near Grosuplje, Slovenia
Anja Zelnikar from Mala Vas near Grosuplje, Slovenia
Katja Zelnikar from Mala Vas near Grosuplje, Slovenia
Atomik Harmonik from Slovenia
Ansambel Brothers Gregoric from Caledon, Ontario, Canada
Niagara Button Boxers from Niagara region of Ontario
Ulster Accordion Band from Ontario, Canada

The Button Akordion Rocks Club extends sincere thanks to the sponsors, advertisers, and raffle donators without whose support this event would not have been possible. We are especially grateful to the Government of the Republic of Slovenia Office of Slovenians Abroad for their generous grant. Zahvaljujemo se Republiki Sloveniji Urad Vlade za Slovence v zamejstvu in po svetu, za sponzorstvo.

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The Button Akordion Rocks Club is a not-for-profit organization registered in the province of Ontario, Canada. Our primary mission is to spark an interest in and appreciation for button accordion music by organizing events that bring together musicians and music lovers who are keen on exploring and celebrating the cultural heritage of their parents and grandparents. Above all, we hope to influence our young people in developing their unique, creative gifts through music. 

© Martin Pusic 2015 - 2022