After a long time, a jazz orchestra concert awaits us on the Large Stage of Madlenianum, this time featuring the Big Band of the Academy of Music of the University of Ljubljana, led by a conductor Matej Hotko. The guests from Slovenia will perform on the occasion of the significant Slovenian holiday, Prešeren Day, on 7th February at 19:30. For the concert titled From Swing to Latin American Rhythms, this orchestra and their mentor, a conductor Hotko, have chosen to showcase the all the skilfulness of playing by this very popular and award-winning band.

The Big Band of the Academy of Music of the University of Ljubljana, known as the Big Band ULAG, is a leading student entity in the Slovenian jazz scene and is considered one of the best student big bands in the world today. It was founded in the academic year 2011/2012 as part of an elective course and under the mentorship of the renowned double bassist, producer, and founder of the B.A.S.E music school, Docent Matej Hotko, quickly gaining an outstanding reputation.

In addition to performances at prestigious locations such as Prešeren Square, the Slovenian Philharmonic, and the Gallus Hall of the CD Ljubljana, the Big Band ULAG has proven its excellence on tours throughout Europe, including Serbia, Macedonia, Austria, Croatia and Germany. A series of video recordings was also produced for the Zevnikov YouTube channel, which last year became one of the 29 best music channels for orchestral and jazz music in the world. The channel is in prestigious company alongside the London Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Danish Orchestra.

The Academy of Music in Ljubljana does not only offer one but two big bands. Besides the concert big band, which has already gained international reputation, the Academy of Music provides another big band that represents a platform for young jazz musicians to grow, develop their skills and learn the rules of playing in such a magnificent ensemble. The second big band is an essential part of the educational process at the Music Academy, providing valuable experience to students and laying the groundwork for a possible future in the concert big band or other professional jazz ensembles.

Matej Hotko, a graduate of the prestigious Manhattan School of Music in New York, is one of the most esteemed jazz double bassists and mentors in Slovenia. Known for his passion for pedagogy, he has developed an innovative pedagogical method called O.G.I, which encourages an individual approach and creativity in students. As the director of the B.A.S.E. Music School and the head of the jazz department at the Academy of Music of the University of Ljubljana, he has set new standards in music education. His work as the conductor of the academic big band has opened doors for students to valuable international experiences. Matej Hotko, the recipient of the Award for Significant Artistic Achievements from the University of Ljubljana, is a key figure in shaping the contemporary music scene in Slovenia and abroad.

The concert of the Big Band of the Academy of Music of the University of Ljubljana offers a beautiful array of jazz works that promise an unforgettable musical experience. The pieces they play are carefully chosen to showcase various aspects of jazz tradition – from classic swing melodies to more modern rhythmic experiments and influences from other musical cultures. The selection of music reflects both technical perfection and deep emotional expressiveness, which is the key to every successful jazz concert. Certainly, this is a concert where experienced big band musicians will prove themselves perfectly, and the audience will be able to enjoy the masterful interweaving of rhythms, melodies, and harmonies.


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