Merilee Terry first started playing bagpipes at Southern Utah University 20 years ago. Then there was Ben Lomond High School, one of her early teaching jobs, which had a bagpipe band, their mascot being the Scots.  

Terry, the innovative head of the Kanab High School (KHS) music department, started a bagpipe band at KHS two years ago, and it has been a great experience for the students involved. 

The music mentoring program, begun by Terry several years ago, has also been a meaningful experience. Xpressions involves 35 students, from preschool to eighth grade, divided into several age groups. Each group is mentored by three X-press students, who teach younger students music and choreography, and ready them for performances.  

Last year, Linda Ghidossi-DeLuca joined the Kanab musical family as the new KHS strings teacher. An outstanding violist and violinist herself, she is a graduate of the Julliard School, where she received bachelor and master’s degrees in solo and chamber music performance. She was formerly the principal violist with the Santa Rosa, CA. Symphony. Recently, she brought her former instructor, renowned violist Dr. Robert Slaughter, to coach her Kanab strings and guitar students for a week.

The high school music department includes three performance groups: Encore!, the strings group headed by DeLuca; the Kanab High School Band; and vocal ensemble X-Press, both taught by Terry. A talented and versatile musician herself, Terry has in nine years enhanced the music program at both the high and middle school levels, through the support and partnership with the Symphony of the Canyons.   

All of the high school groups will combine with the Symphony of the Canyons for a memorable Christmas-themed musical performance on Friday, December 4, at the Kanab Middle School. The program, which includes a 90-minute performance and dinner, is one of the social highlights of the year for Kanab. Tickets at $35 (advance sale) will go on sale in the near future.  

The vocal ensemble X-Press consists of carefully auditioned Kanab High students, ages 15-18, who sing every day. The group has consistently won top awards in various state and national competitions over the last nine years, performing a wide variety of programs, from jazz to spiritual and pop to classical.  

X-Press works under the direction of Terry, with 10 sopranos, nine altos, nine tenors, 10 basses and one student accompanist. Student leaders are Matt Vaughn (president), Blaine Allan (vice–president), Kira Robinson (secretary), Andrew Corry and Chelsea Vreeken (public relations) and Aaron Downward and Jamie Croteau (treasurers).  

 The KHS Band, also led by Terry, includes 34 talented and adaptable students, who in various combinations, function as pep, concert and jazz bands. Some members play different instruments as needed for the particular music being performed.  

The group includes 10 flautists, three clarinetists, two alto saxophonists, three tenor saxophonists, one baritone saxophonist, five trumpeters, three trombonists, three bassists, three guitarists, and five percussionists. Student band leaders are Ian Hiscock and Ben Cserepes (co-presidents), Anthony Bettancourt (vice-president), Judah Evangelista (secretary), and Hilaree Sargeant (public relations). The pep and jazz band sections have developed a delightful flair for improvisation over the last two years, as older students have grown in confidence and skill.  

The strings group, Encore!, has the following student leaders: Aaron Downward (president), David Kirby (vice-president), Taylor Bettfreund (secretary), Kaylee Jones (treasurer), and Aaron Reed (public relations). The Concertmaster is David Kirby, Principal Second Violin Aaron Downward, Principal Viola Patrick Lopez, Principal Cello Johanna Bowman, and Principal Bass Blaine Allan. DeLuca has taken these students to a new level of excellence. They work very hard and their sound is lovely. 

Nurtured financially and musically by our local Symphony of the Canyons, under the skilled direction of Kortney Stirland, the high school music department, for the fifth year in a row, will receive half the proceeds from the Christmas event, the only fundraiser of the year for the school music programs.  

Parents, students, teachers, community members and businesses are preparing for the annual event. It involves a tremendous amount of work, but delights its audience each year with an elegant community celebration of music. The Symphony of the Canyons, Xpress and Encore! will all perform this year on the same program as the symphony.  

Under the artistic direction of LeeAnn Chamberlain, volunteers and community “table artists” transform the plain gymnasium into a festive nightclub of sorts, with the theme “Christmas is for the Birds.” Volunteers interested in setting and decorating a table should contact LeeAnn at 644-2987.

The celebration continues on Saturday, December 5, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. As always, there will be good food and entertainment throughout the day. Vendor booths will be offering a variety of holiday shopping choices. For information about renting a booth space, call Emily Lind at 644-2747. To contribute fresh baked goods for a bake sale, call Connie Keller at 644-8614.   

Entertainers are also needed throughout the day. To share your performance talent at the festival, contact Wendy Allan at 644-8550. To contribute decorated trees and filled baskets for the Saturday raffle, or to donate cash or anything else, call Kim Blake at 644-3555.

To volunteer to help in any way, or for more information, call Lee Ann Chamberlain at 622-2987 or Merilee Terry at 644-8452.     

“Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.”  – Confucius