Sisters quartet soothes Marion Center with sounds of strings

Sep 4, 2020

MARION — Residents sat in lawn chairs and blankets, and drivers slowed their cars as they passed to hear the sounds of the Furtado Sisters String Quartet on the lawn of the Marion Music Hall on Sept. 4.

The four sisters — violinists Marilyn Melanson and Teresa Ouelette, violist Susan Bouley, and cellist Judith Stoltenberg — have been playing together since they were children.

“You can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family, so we’re stuck with each other,” joked Melanson.

Concertgoers sat and listened as the four played songs such as Antonio Vivaldi’s “Springtime,” an Irish jig, and even a few covers like “A Whole New World” from Disney’s “Aladdin” and “When I’m Sixty-Four” by The Beatles.

The four used to have to practice inside together as children before being able to play with their friends outside, even using the bathroom as one of the practice rooms because of having four players practice at once.

The Furtado name is well-recognized in classical music in New Bedford and has been ever since they were young.

The group’s first public performance was in the Zeiterion Theater for the Old New Bedford High School’s May Festival, which was broadcasted over the radio airwaves.

After moving out of the area for a while, the group has been playing together in recent years. 

During covid, the time spent practicing together has been a respite for the sisters.

“I’ve missed it,” Bouley said. “When we finally got together to practice, it was like a big breath of fresh air.” 

All four are music teachers, and so they worry about their students for the coming year.

“When you think about children not having the opportunity in public schools, it’s sad,” Melanson said.

But, at least for one afternoon, the Furtado Sisters were able to give respite to the residents of Marion and beyond.