4th Sunday at Four
- photos and story by Ellis Anderson
One of the most popular music and arts events on the coast actually had its beginnings in Kansas City.
Margene Dawson, long-time coordinator for the 4th Sunday at Four at Christ Episcopal Church in Bay St. Louis explains how the hit series traveled south.
Margene and her husband, Father Ted Dawson, spent several years in Kansas City, helping a small mission church become a full-fledged parish. The city is renowned for its enormous art festivals.
Flash forward to 2011. The new Christ Church building, replacing the one destroyed by Katrina, had been sanctified. Yet the church vestry wanted the spacious facility to be used for community events, as well as congregational ones. The Dawsons, who had been attending the church for several years, shared their Kansas City 4th Sunday experience. The concept was met with enthusiasm. The first event took place in January 2011, making 2015 the fifth year of the series.
The event begins with a musical performance in the sanctuary starting at 4pm. Favorite past performers include Coast Chorale (a Christmas tradition), Laura Leigh Dobson, J.T. Anglin, Walter Chamberlin’s jazz ensemble, and Father Ron & Friends (who just performed in May). Other much appreciated performers have been the N.O. Quarter Shanty Krewe (who performed Irish Sea Chanties) and Heather and the Monkey King.
The musical programs range from classical to folk to jazz. The performers are paid only what the audience donates as they’re leaving. But Margene says that people are generous, so it works out well for both performers and the audience. She also says performers love the venue – the building is lovely and uplifting, while the audiences are quiet, attentive and appreciative.
After the one-hour performance, the crowds stream across to the community hall next door. The large room is set up like a gallery each month, to showcase everything from photography to paintings to pottery. All the artwork is for sale and since refreshments and hors d’oeuvres are served, the affair takes on the feel of a swank big city gallery opening.
The artists keep all the proceeds from the sales – the church doesn’t collect any commission.
Artists with coast-wide reputations that have shown at the series include Tazewell, Kat Fitzpatrick, Lori Gordon and Neil Untersaher. Watercolorist John McDonald was the featured artist for the May event.
As the reputation of the series spreads, attendances have been building. Margene says they're at least double what they were five years ago.
4th Sunday at Four take place nine months a year. April is skipped because of Easter activities, while school openings and the heat in August and September combine to make the events difficult to coordinate.
“The only way I’d do it in August is if we could get Neil Diamond,” Margene says, laughing.