During the more than 25 years Kort Stirland, local pharmacist, has been in Kanab, he had never seen the natural amphitheatre at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary called Angels Landing. 

But one look at the location several weeks ago convinced Stirland, who moonlights as conductor of the Symphony of the Canyons, there was no better place to celebrate the symphony’s 25th birthday.

Coincidentally, Best Friends Animal Society’s 25th anniversary also takes place this year so the two organizations have joined forces to stage what should be a memorable concert at Angels Landing. It will be the very first public concert to be held at the facility.

“The natural acoustics at Angels Landing are like no other venue we’ve played before,” said Stirland. “We think it will be a wonderful place to perform and we hope the entire community will come out and help us celebrate the birthdays of both organizations.”

Holding the concert at Best Friends presents a few challenges, according to Tonny van der Leeden, chairman of the board for Symphony of the Canyons.

“Those attending will park at the Best Friends Welcome Center and we have arranged to use the Senior Citizen Center busses to shuttle concert-goers up to the Landing,” van der Leeden said. “We appreciate the cooperation from the entire community for putting on what we think will be one of the most memorable symphony events ever.”

John Polis, symphony board member and public relations manager for Best Friends, said the occasion has caused Best Friends to increase the size of the stage to accommodate the entire orchestra.

“We realized our little stage wouldn’t accommodate the orchestra, so we decided to enlarge it,” Polis said. “Our thanks go to Terrill Honey at Lumber Plus, who has given us a favorable price for materials that will enlarge the stage and make our presentation much more professional.”

Special lighting is also being brought in for the concert, Polis said. “We’ve worked with a lighting company in Los Angeles to lend us some special new LED floodlights (for minimal cost) that will enable us to flood the entire rock face of the amphitheatre with colorful light, making it quite spectacular for the evening.”

The music for the evening will consist of popular favorites from the symphony’s repertoire that has built up over the last 25 years. The symphony performance will be preceded by an opening vocal performance of animal-themed songs by The Canyon Singers, directed by Mary McDonald.

Capacity seating for performance will be 400 and concert-goers are asked to allow plenty of time for parking at the Best Friends Welcome Center and to catch the free shuttle to Angels Landing.

“Another benefit to going early will be to enjoy the natural beauty of Angels Landing,” said van der Leeden. “There will be light refreshments available and we think it will be wonderful evening for everyone.”