Symphony of the Canyons | Kanab Utah

Home of the Symphony | Kanab, Utah

Home of the Symphony | Kanab, Utah


Symphony Of The Canyons History

Symphony Of The Canyons History

Twenty-five years ago, a group of 17 musicians – led by the local pharmacist – banded together for a performance of “The Music Man” in Kanab, Utah, in the first-ever appearance of what would become Symphony of the Canyons. Two and a half decades and more than 200 concerts later, the pharmacist-conductor Kortney Stirland and many of the other original performers are still here, and Kanab’s connection to great music is still going strong. From Handel’s “Messiah” during the holiday season to full-blown musicals in conjunction with Kanab’s LDS Church, Symphony of the Canyons is a fixture in Kanab.

In 1990, the orchestra, known as the Kanab Civic Orchestra, became an official non-profit entity in order to apply for grants and matching funds, as well as solicit donations for music and equipment. In 1992, the orchestra added a new Christmas concert event that included a dinner and a performance. Originally called “Operation Band-Aid” it continues to this day as the major fundraiser for the orchestra and also supports the Kanab High School music department.

When Kanab hosted a special Smithsonian Exhibit on the topic of World War I in 1995, the orchestra performed for a live radio audience in a special USO show to mark the occasion. That was also the year when the orchestra started its annual tradition of performing at the north rim of Grand Canyon National Park. In the next few years, the orchestra performed for the Utah Arts Festival in Salt Lake City and played host to piano master Pierce Emata from in Kanab. Indianapolis in the first of many performances by Emata. The orchestra also worked the entire year 1998 to prepare for a special concert featuring the Hiratsuka Koto Ensemble from Japan that included dancers and shakuhachi players.

In 1999, in an effort to better represent the entire area that produces its musicians, the orchestra changed its name to Symphony of the Canyons. Performers, who vary in age from young teenagers to more than 70, come from as far away as St. George, Page, AZ, and other surrounding communities. One of Kanabâ„¢s most memorable performances came just two days after the planes crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City. A special program was put together to honor those killed in the catastrophe. The next month, the symphony, along with the Kanab High School, Kanab Middle School, Kanab Elementary School and Voiceworx, a local childrens choir, presented “Light the Fire Within” a tribute to the 2002 Winter Olympics held in Utah.

Through the years, the Symphony has been honored with several awards. In 1992, Conductor Stirland was nominated for the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. In 2003, the symphony of the Canyons was awarded the Governor’s Silver Bowl Award, presented by Utah volunteer centers to honor individuals and groups who enrich the lives of others.

A remarkable achievement for a community of only 4,000 residents, Symphony of the Canyons continues as a labor of love for those who lead the orchestra, those who volunteer time to make it successful, and, of course, to the many performers whose talent produces the music for about a dozen concerts each year.

About Us

Board Of Directors for 2016

Kortney Stirland, Artistic Director
Betty Colston, President
Art Brainerd III
Bruce Davis
John Jacobs
Lori McGraw
Dave Owens
Tony Schoenfeld
Merilee Terry

Our Sponsors

We are grateful for the support of these companies, foundations, and civic organizations:
Best Friends Animal Society
City of Hurricane
Dukes Clothing and Samco
The Sterling and Shelli Gardner Foundation
Glazier’s Market
Honey’s Jubilee Foods
Kane County Travel Council
Utah Arts Council
Zion Pharmacy
Get InvolvedGet Involved


Dear Friends,
Thank you for your support! Symphony of the Canyons is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization serving people living in Southern Utah, Northern Arizona, and visitors from all over the world.
We would not exist without the support of individual music lovers like you. Please help us continue to teach, learn and play music for everyone, and to be an arts ambassador to the world. Your donation is deeply appreciated.
Kortney Stirland, Conductor

Our History

Twenty-five years ago, a pharmacist named Kortney Stirland decided to put together a group of musicians to perform in the town of Kanab, Utah. Some 200 concerts later, and under the same leadership, Symphony of the Canyons is sharing the joy of music with residents of and visitors to our beautiful region of the United States.

Take a look back at the origins of our Symphony, and its remarkable achievements.

Our philosophy is: Music Just Makes Life Better.

Our Programs

For a little orchestra in a small town, Symphony of the Canyons has a rich array of programs that serve not only youth and adults who live in Southern Utah and Northern Arizona, but also visitors to this beautiful region of the United States.
Through performances and music classes and lessons, we bring music into the hearts of people, inspire creativity, and enrich our community. Find out more about our programs.

Who We Are

Made up of members both young and old, Symphony of the Canyons is led by Conductor Kortney Stirland, and assisted by Concertmaster Virgil Barstad. Our orchestra wouldn’t exist without the support of our Board,Sponsors, and Friends who make up our community of music lovers.

AARP Outstanding Volunteer Award Letter