June 28, 2013
Gram Negative, a local progressive rock band, will participate in the 2013 Chengdu International Youth Music Festival July 25 to 31. The festival, which began in 2007, will be held in Chengdu, China one of Phoenix’s 10 Sister Cities.
The group will stay with other festival musicians in Chengdu, building camaraderie and citizen diplomacy through music. When not performing, the musicians will explore the city and experience the beauty of the Sichuan Province.
Two of the four Gram Negative band members are Ahwatukee residents. Alex Sipes, group leader and guitarist, participated in the Phoenix Sister Cities’ Youth Ambassador Exchange Program in 2010. Alex also participated in 2012 Divercities, an international music festival held in Grenoble, France, also a Phoenix Sister City. Christopher Kontos, also attended Divercities and impressed the crowd with his drumming skills. This year, Gram Negative welcomes two new additions to the band: Christian Merrell, who plays the keyboard and Julian Weinstein who is the lead vocalist. Julian, like Alex, participated in the Phoenix Sister Cities Youth Ambassador Exchange Program (YAEP) while in high school. Julian served his YAEP term in 2011 to Himeji, Japan.
Along with Gram Negative, nearly 15 other bands from around the world will debut at the Chengdu International Youth Music Festival. The complete list of performers has yet to be announced, but some of the groups will travel from Austria, Germany, South Korea and Hong Kong.
To follow Gram Negative while in Chengdu or for more information about the Chengdu International Youth Music Festival, visit phoenixsistercities.org.
Misty R. Cisneros-Contreras