The Symphony of the Canyons is inviting people to usher in the Christmas season with scrumptious food and beautiful music, while at the same time providing a Christmas-gift of music all year long. The symphony is holding its annual Christmas Festival dinner and concert on Friday, December 2, at Kanab Middle School beginning at 5:30 p.m.

“It’s the once-a-year fundraiser that the symphony does to raise funds so that it can do the rest of the next year’s concerts for free,” says Betty Colston, the Symphony of the Canyons’ treasurer and coordinator of the Christmas Festival.

A social hour preludes the event at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 6. Attendees will have their choice of prime rib or a vegan plate of grilled portobello mushroom with artichoke ragu.

Music to dine by will be provided by the David Dickson Quartet and pianist Joann Mosier. After dinner, at 7:15 p.m., join Symphony of the Canyons orchestra members, the Kanab High School’s Encore Chamber Orchestra, and the Jazz on the Red Rocks band for a concert of music of the season.

Dinner and concert combined are $35 per person. And while the food and music alone would be worth that price, Christmas Festival goers will get much more.

In a way, the $35 is also a season ticket to the symphony’s 2012 performances, since the event helps fund the symphony’s eight to 10 concerts for the coming year. “All of our concerts are free,” Colston says.

The Symphony of the Canyons is one of the cultural gems of Kane County and surrounding areas, and the Christmas Festival helps keeps it so. The orchestra is 27 years old and has 50 musicians, some of whom come from Washington and Iron counties in Utah, and Page and Fredonia, Arizona.

The symphony takes its concerts to venues throughout the area beyond Kane County, including as far away as the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

“Even though the musicians themselves are volunteer, the symphony has hidden costs,” Colston said, “such as setup and travel expenses, which are partly defrayed by the Christmas Festival fundraiser.”

The Christmas Festival also raises funds for the symphony’s music education programs in local schools. Money raised at the event bolsters other funds from grants and donations that the symphony uses to support the development of musically talented students. The symphony helps purchase instruments, provides instruction, subsidizes private lessons, and gives scholarships to music students. Such programs exemplify the Symphony of the Canyons’ philosophy: “Music just makes life better.”

Tickets to the Symphony of the Canyons’ Christmas Festival are available at Zion Pharmacy (14 E. Center Street in Kanab), or by calling Betty Colston at (435) 644-8276.