Ian Anderson Talks About His String Quartet Versions of Jethro Tull

by Paul Cashmere, Noise11

Ian Anderson has recreated his music with Jethro Tull with the Carducci String Quartet but don’t call this project classical.

“The thing about this is, I am not doing classical music,” Anderson tells Noise11.com. “This is rock music done with a switch of the acoustic instruments of an orchestra (or in this case a string quartet). Whilst you are working within the traditions of classic (with a small c) it doesn’t turn it into classical music. It still has its origins of the Jethro Tull repertoire. I think what we tried to do was put it “in the style of classical music”. But that doesn’t make it classical. Most classical music is 200-300 years old and as much as some of us might want to wave a magic wand (or baton) it’s not possible to recreate (and why would you want to). That was then and this is now”.


The string quartet reimagination of the music of Jethro Tull has been a year in the making. “At the beginning of last year I decided to pursue the project and discussed it with our keyboard player John O’Hara who is a classically trained musician and composer,” Ian said. “We worked on it over the course of the next few months while we were on tour and got it together to record with the chosen string quartet, the Carducci String Quartet in September last year”.

While the project is something completely different for Jethro Tull, Ian says it is definitely a one-off and that everything they recorded was used on this album. “I don’t think that I’d want to go there again because I feel there are other things that would be a priority for me before thinking about something like that. At the moment I don’t have any ideas about doing that again. I’ve worked with large and small orchestras before. The only thing I haven’t done, except on one occasion with a few pieces, is to work with a choir. That is something that might have a possibility in the future, to do a choral work. It would be a very different realisation of that music to be sung by a mixed choir”.

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