Three Ahwatukee Foothills residents are taking their passion for music across international waters as they perform at the fourth annual Grenoble Music Festival in France.
Alex Sipes, 19, Christopher Kontos, 17, and Collin Sleasman, 20, were invited to participate in the festival, known as “Fete de la Musique,” June 11-22. During that time they’ll go to music workshops with other musicians from around the world and prepare for a final performance on June 21 at the local St. Andre Square.
The festival committee invites musicians each year from its international sister cities to participate in the festival. Sipes has been part of the Phoenix Sister Cities program in the past when he travelled to Catania, Italy, during high school. At that time he played in a jazz band with his host family and because the sister cities program knew of his love for music he was asked if he would like to attend the festival.
“I was sitting outside my jazz class and I got a call from the coordinator of the sister cities program and she said she got a call from one of the sister cities and they wanted three musicians for a music festival,” Sipes said. “She asked if that was something I’d be interested in. I said, ‘Very much so.’”
Sipes was asked to gather two other musicians to attend the festival with him. He chose two friends that he has played with for fun for years. Since then the boys have been practicing together as often as possible in preparation for their trip.
Each of the boys has been out of the country before. Kontos has been to Mexico numerous times and Sleasman travelled to Germany during his senior year in high school. While their families are now excited about this opportunity, the boys say they received confused responses when they first broke the news.
“They were skeptical at first,” Sleasman said. “I had to have Alex come over and explain it further. They were pretty excited once we explained it to them, but in the beginning it was just sort of confusing.”
The boys say they’re looking forward to experiencing France, but that they’re also excited to play music with musicians from around the world.
The boys will leave June 11 and return June 22. The city of Grenoble is paying for their housing at a local youth hostel, transportation, and food. The boys are paying their own airfare. For more information on the Phoenix Sister Cities Program, visit www.phoenixsistercities.org or call (602) 534-3751.
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