West End Percussionist for TINA, The Tina Turner Musical

Corrina Silvester

Corrina is a well known versatile percussionist. With lots of experience of theatre, live on stage in concert halls, famous jazz venues and recording in a studio. In London’s West End theatre she currently performs as Principal Percussionist on TINA, The Tina Turner Musical (Aldwych Theatre). Her extensive work in theatre has also held her percussion chairs on: 42nd Street, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sister Act, Monty Python’s Spamalot, Mel Brook’s The Producers, Anything Goes, The Full Monty and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Beautiful Game. At the National Theatre: Cyrano de Bergerac, Luther, The Villains Opera. Twelfth Night (Royal Shakespeare Company) both in Stratford and the West End. Along with productions We the People, King Lear, Much Ado About Nothing and Mysteries at Shakespeare’s Globe as part of the band both onstage and off, and performed The Thief of Baghdad at the Linbury Studio, Royal Opera House where she played drumset and percussion. As a versatile percussionist she has played in the percussion sections for blockbuster film and sound track sessions at Abbey Road, Air Lyndhurst Recording and Angel Studios. Corrina played percussion live on television with Ariana Grande and Live at the BBC, for Hans Zimmer Revealed. Corrina has given rhythm masterclasses to the students on both the Jazz and Orchestral music degree courses at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and has covered percussion classes at The Royal Academy of Music.

 

Why did you take up percussion and how old were you?


I was always involved in music activities at primary school playing the piano and recorder, I steered towards percussion after taking some drum kit lessons around the age of 9. 
 

Do you have any advice for young percussionists during this stage of education? 

 

Have a great attitude, enthusiasm to learn, be open minded. Listen, play and practise lots, play music together with other people as much as possible. 
 

With your knowledge and experience now, what performance opportunities would you suggest young percussionists engage with? 

 

Play in a band, play covers, write music together. Discover and play all sorts of styles. Experiment. Improvise on the instrument. Become a member of the percussion section in a local orchestra or be part of the local theatre music department learning and playing repertoire. 

 

At what point did you decide this was the profession for you? 

 

It seemed the route to take with having been exposed to music a lot through childhood years. My parents don't play a musical instrument and encouraged me to try it. They love Rock and Roll and I had grown up with that music on at home. Enjoyed following the top 40 and listening pop records in teen years. Art and design closely following behind music. 

 

After school, where did you continue your studies and who did you learn with?

 

Trinity College of Music, London. A Performer's Degree course for four years. That's when the college was situated at Mandeville Place, north of Bond Street. I studied with there with John Chimes (Timpani and Percussion,) Kevin Nutty (Orchestral percussion,) Paul Clarvis (Drum kit and all kinds of percussion instruments from around the world,) Dawson Miller (all kinds of percussion instruments from around the world,) Rick Finlay and Dave Wickins (Drum kit.) Had priceless private lessons on Drum kit and all kinds of percussion instruments from around the world with Dave Hassell. How cool was that to have had the opportunity to study percussion and music with these people. 

 

What was your first ever professional engagement, what was it like and how did you get it?

 

Oh crikey I can't remember! ....I think it was playing Tchaikovsky's Cinderella with the English National Ballet. Wonderful experience. Magic ballet on stage, a beautiful score. Studying with Kevin Nutty, he gave me the opportunity to play with the orchestra. Sitting next to him in the percussion section, hearing him and the section play was wonderful. Felt great to be part of it. Then shortly followed by being asked to dep on Saturday Night Fever at the Palladium, London. Within the rhythm section there were two percussionists in addition to the drumset player. Nigel Charman who played one of the percussion chairs asked me to dep via Paul Clarvis recommending me. The pad was Timpani, Timbale, hand percussion, triggering a few electronic pads. All those groovy disco tunes to play! I remember an all star theatre band of musicians. It felt marvellous to have the opportunity to be playing with these people. I remember sitting next to Julian Fairbank who played the other percussion chair, fantastic musician. Got on fine with both dates - I got asked back!

 

What happened next?

 

Got on with it really! Playing music with people, practising, getting out there working. Had played in NYJO for years (had joined that band at the end of the first year of college.) Rehearsals once a week on a Saturday morning. Playing hall and theatre gigs around the UK. That playing experience opened doors to meeting many musicians playing Jazz and improvised music. I played a production called The Villains Opera in the Olivier Theatre at the National Theatre. Stephen Warbeck wrote the music, along with Paul Englishby. Neil McCartha musical director. I met some wonderful musicians on this. Fond memories. Shortly followed The Beautiful Game, a new show by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Ben Elton at the Cambridge Theatre, London. Paul Clarvis recommended me for the show. I took over from him straight after the Press Night and exclusive period. It was great fun to play. There were 9 musicians in the band. Set in Ireland, the music had an Irish folk feel with Andrews modern rock twist and time signature changes. Bodhran, Spoons, Darbuka, an assortment of hand percussion instruments and a bit of snare drum. The show ran for a year. 

 

You are currently the principal percussionist for the West End show, 'TINA' the Tina Turner musical, whats this like?

 

It's fantastic, thank you! The band and cast are hugely talented artists. Tina's life story is extraordinary, an amazing woman. We get to play some of her music hits from her performances with Ike Turner through to her solo career 80/90s repertoire. What's not to like?! Hidden behind a huge LED screen, the rhythm section is set on a truck, the horn section and MD off next to us off to the side. Later in the show the band are revealed to the audience. It's like a live stage gig then at that point. Since mid March this year (2020) the show and other productions have stopped for a time. The arts sector and many businesses have taken a massive hit due to Covid 19 pandemic. A tricky time for us all. Music and all avenues of the entertainment industry are so important, a special gift and experience for not only the artists to have but an audience to receive too. Not to mention all of the back stage crew, costume dressers, wigs, make up, production staff, designers, directors and theatre front of house hard workers, everyone involved.. We all hope to return to our craft as soon as the pandemic and government guidelines allow us to. 

 

Are there any challenges?

 

To try recreate those fantastic recordings, each with specific feels, styles. River Deep Mountain High has a famous Bongo feature mid tune to be played with vitality and big energy - don't forget that show performances are regular so consistency and freshness is a must!

 

What other theatre work have you done? Which was your favourite show?  

 

There's over twenty years experience playing as the percussionist on various productions in the West End, at the National Theatre and Shakespeare's Globe. Fortunate and grateful. I'm not sure I have a favourite show! Have taken something from each production - learning and experience, different styles musically, instrument set ups and sorting the gear, maybe having to wear a costume on stage to play, playing with many different musicians, learning about life along the way. 

 

What would your advice be to a young percussionist wanting to get into theatre?  

 

Go see and play in as many theatre productions as you can. Whether that school, local theatre or touring. 

If you know a musician on a production this might help, see if it's possible to have a natter with them sometime about their journey to and in the industry, they might say if it's possible and invite to have a look back stage. Every musicians route is different, that's what makes it interesting. Keep playing, enjoying it and meeting people. 

 

Is recording different to performing live?

 

One's with a live audience, the other isn't! Recording in a studio we're all striving for a great sound, accuracy and consistency on every instrument. You might be part of a full orchestra, or stemming takes with the percussion section, or on your own. Like any performance there's detail to capture in the music. What and which gear is needed for the session, working together with the composer, sometimes requested players for that particular composer, the consistent quality of sound one produces, the room acoustics you're playing in, reading new music accurately, wearing cans, being switched on to adjust to the surrounding lots can be happening at once. You might be recording a short piece of music over and over changing details within the orchestration, or the music cues fly by quickly. A live performance you might be a member of a band regularly playing the tunes but in different venues. Which gear you're taking along for that set, the room or stage you're playing, different sound engineers are all things to be considered. When the band sound checks the sound is totally different to when the audience is in the venue. The sound is soaked up. There's a certain feeling you get back from an audience. And likewise from artists to them. I'd like to say the recording and live are both easy, but they ain't always! They both have moving targets and learning is constant adapting to the situation you're in. 

 

Do you have any other strings to your bow? 

 

I teach percussion and enjoy meeting new players. To be able to share music to another musician is a wonderful thing, I fortunately had that happen to me, still do. We're all constantly learning from each with our unique journeys. There's something massive to be said for hard work and dedication. Aside music, I enjoy keeping fit. Art projects in the home, furniture up-cycle, making things. Creating music and art are two things that connect very well. 

 

What is your career highlight so far?

 

Hmm.. working regularly! I'd say performing Pandemonium in the Olympic Stadium for London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony. Awesome in so many ways!! 

 

What is the best thing about being a musician?

 

We all are able to do what we are massively passionate about as a job and get paid. To meet up and play music with other fine musicians, the opportunity to travel, to learn. 

 

What would your 'Top Three Tips' be for a young percussionist thinking about a career in music?

 

1. Work hard with enthusiasm and spirit. 

2. Stay focused, keep learning and enjoy it.

3. Be good, be kind.

 

Anything last thoughts?

Thanks for having me on here. Really appreciate it. Good luck to you young musicians looking to get out and play. Go for it!

Thanks Corrina! 

If you would like to find out more about Corrina, check out her website:

corrinasilvester.com/about/