One of the fun parts of most years at ICCA Finals is that for every familiar face—a group that makes Finals time and again—there will be a group making its Finals debut. This year, those fresh faces include The Towson Trills.
As long time readers may know, I was based out of Baltimore for almost seven years, which is more than half of the ACB’s existence. Over that time, I got to see a number of groups performing out of Baltimore area schools, and I was surprised to hear of a group out of Towson University, just outside the city, making it all the way to Finals when I’d never heard of them before.
The reason I hadn’t heard of them became clear quickly enough—they’ve only been around for a year and a half. The current group consists of soprano Katie Sacha, altos Abby Reinhold and Harmony Reichert, tenor William Damanka Jr., Bariton Brian Lim, bass Leroy Hyson, and vocal percussionist Aaron Bayne. Bayne was kind enough to reach out to the ACB to share part of their story and partake in an interview with us.
Some fast facts about The Towson Trills. Along the way to Finals this year, they finished second in their quarterfinal at Johns Hopkins University before winning the Mid-Atlantic Semifinal at the Playhouse on Rodney Square, while picking up Outstanding Arrangement and Vocal Percussion honors. According to Bayne, the group is tied for the smallest group to make it to ICCA Finals, and is the smallest group to compete in the last round of the tournament since 2004. They’re the first group to represent Towson University at Finals, and there’s reason to believe this won’t be last we hear of them, given six out of seven of the group members don’t graduate until 2019. Finally, and perhaps most intriguingly, Bayne noted none of the Trills’ arranements are written down, but rater all group arranged in a process facilited by music director Hyson.
The A Cappella Blog: Your group is also unique for having just seven members. Is the small size of the group by design? How did the group come together?
The Towson Trills (via Aaron Bayne): The Towson Trills came together in a sort of freak accident in the Fall of 2015. We moved into Towson's campus on a Saturday, and by the first Tuesday of the school week we were having rehearsals. Our alto, Harmony Reichert, and our soprano, Katie Sacha went to high school together and wanted to do music in college. Our bass, Leroy Hyson met myself (Aaron, Vocal Percussion) and our second alto at an open mic night that weekend. Our 6th member, Griffin Delisle, who was our lead tenor at the time, was the roommate of Leroy. From only the first weekend of school, the Towson Trills was born as a 6 member, all freshman, acapella group. We started rehearsing and realized that we sounded good with only 6 people, and thinking that 6 was a normal group size, we moved forward. Our first notable moment that made us stay as a small group was winning the Towson University Homecoming Talent Show- Only 2 months after becoming a group. Since then we practiced and did small gigs around Towson to boost our name in the community. This was until our lead tenor, Griffin, had to unfortunately leave the group in February of 2016, due to scheduling conflicts. This forced us have our first ever audition. We auditioned and picked up two amazing vocalists, Brian our baritone, and William our tenor. After these auditions we became the 7 member group that is on our way to finals, and we haven't looked back.
The A Cappella Blog: Your group has accomplished the unusual and impressive feat of making it to Finals in your first year of ICCA competition (not to mention, less than two years after the group started). How did you accomplish this goal?
The Towson Trills: Honestly, we are still in shock about making it to finals. We are the first group from our college to ever place in the ICCA competition, let alone advance all the way to finals. We originally decided to do the ICCA competition to help get our name out into the acapella community and to have fun. As a new group, we originally didn't even have the money to pay the entry fee so we used a GoFundMe to raise the funds. We went into quarterfinals with the mindset of having fun, and making the people who donated to get us there proud. We have seen how the ICCA competition changes attitudes of groups and we really didn't want that to happen. We came in not even expecting to place at quarterfinal and just wanted to give it all we've got. If you put on the best performance that you can, make the audience feel something, and have fun, then you will have a successful show. We did just that and ended up advancing to finals.
The A Cappella Blog: What has your group learned along this first year competing in ICCA?
The Towson Trills: More than we can even fathom ourselves. The ICCA competition is something that unified us under one mutual goal and allowed us to grow closer as a group and as a family. All of the members in the Trills have many other extra curricular activities, and use acapella as a way to escape and get lost in the music. We have learned that even the underdogs, from an unknown school in the acapella community, can succeed if we put in the hard work. Also as a new group, we used the ICCA to help find our sound. Our blend, balance, tone, and much more was solidified during the competition season. It forced us to think, communicate, grow, and sing as 7 individuals with one goal. I can say with absolute certainty that this competition changed the Towson Trills for the better. It created life long bonds that I am very excited to take into the future. We are ready to change the world of college acapella and owe it all to the ICCA.
The A Cappella Blog: How is your group preparing for Finals?
The Towson Trills: We are working very hard to make sure our set takes the audience members on a journey, and at each stop they feel something.
We are also tweaking all of our vocals to ensure every part of our songs have meaning, and are performed with accuracy. In addition to all of our finals prep, we are getting a workshop from Joshua Singer, Faux Paz Alumni, to take our set to the next level.
The A Cappella Blog: Without spoiling too much, can you give us a little preview of your Finals set? What can audience members expect from The Trills?
The Towson Trills: Audience members can expect from the Trills:
-Sharp, meaningful choreo
-Serious Drums and Percussion
Our set can be encapsulated in three words: Sinister, Somber, 'Splosion.
The A Cappella Blog: Is there anything else you'd like to share with ACB readers?
The Towson Trills: Thanks for taking the time to read about us! We hope you enjoy our Finals set! We will pour every ounce of our beings into this set and are glad to share this journey with you. Thank you to the Mid-Atlantic Region for making us their current champions and for betting on the underdogs.
We are trying to record an EP of our set!! Check out our GoFundMe on our social media pages!
You can follow The Towson Trills on social media using the links below: