Towson Trills a capella group are ready to hit Broadway

By Kyle Hobstetter on March 23, 2017

Towson University student singing group will compete in the mid-Atlantic semifinals of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella in Delaware.

Members of the Towson University student a capella group the Towson Trills, celebrate after finishing second in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella Mid-Atlantic Quarterfinal at Johns Hopkins University on Feb. 25.
Members of the Towson University student a capella group the Towson Trills, celebrate after finishing second in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella Mid-Atlantic Quarterfinal at Johns Hopkins University on Feb. 25.

Update: The Towson Trills are heading to broadway after finishing first at the ICCA semifinals in Delaware. The group also won special awards for Outstanding Arrangement to music director Leroy Hyson, and Outstanding Vocal Percussion to team beatboxer Aaron Bayne. 

The group now moves to the final round on April 22. The finals will be held in New York City at the Beacon Theatre on Broadway. 

When he first helped start the Towson Trills a capella group back in 2015, Towson University  sophomore Leroy Hyson never expected anything like the hit movie “Pitch Perfect.” 

He was just happy to have a singing group with his friends at TU while he was working toward a degree in music. Actual a capella competitions were the last thing on his mind. 

But over a year later, the Towson Trills finished second in the mid-Atlantic quarterfinals of the International Championship of Collegiate A Capella (ICCA) competition, where only the top two groups move onto the semifinal round.

The ICCA quarterfinal was held at Johns Hopkins University on Feb. 25 and featured a capella groups from the University of Delaware, Salisbury University, Johns Hopkins University, UMBC and other local universities.

It was the Towson Trills' first competition. It also marks the first time that a TU student a capella group placed in the top two at a competition.

“I still don’t think it’s real,” Hyson said through a laugh. “Doing competitions wasn’t really a thing a year ago. We kept telling ourselves ‘maybe we’ll do it if we have time.’ But I was having fun singing with my friends. Now we are doing ICCAs like we see in the movies.”

The group features seven TU students: Hyson (bass); Aaron Bayne (vocal percussionist); Katie Sacha (soprano and choreographer); Brian Lim (tenor); William Damanka (baritone/tenor); Abby Reinhold (alto); and Harmony Reichert (alto and president).

With only seven members, the Trills are different from most collegiate a capella groups that feature 15-20 members.

“We’re small by choice,” Bayne said. “We know everyone else was doing the whole big thing on campus, so we thought it would be cool to have a tight-knit, smaller group.”

When the Towson Trills first arrived to the competition, the group felt they were written off rather quickly. Not only were they smaller than the other groups there, the group had little to no buzz in the a capella community.

“Our videos on YouTube were not that good,” Reichert admitted. “The other groups were probably thinking, ‘This group isn’t something we should worry about.’ We were ready to surprise people because we worked really hard in the weeks leading up to the competition.”

And while they came into the competition an unknown commodity, it didn’t take long for the Trills to put everyone else on notice. 

“We got to our mic check and they looked at us on stage and asked if it was only seven of us,” Bayne said. “We said ‘yeah it is,’ and started singing. We could tell they were asking ‘What is going here?’ All their jaws just dropped.”

The Trills performed third in the competition that featured 10 groups and received a standing ovation afterwards. Songs on the Trills’ setlist included: “Death of a Bachelor” by Panic at the Disco; “Unsteady” by X Ambassadors; “Too Late to Apologize” by One Republic; and “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody” by Fergie. 

But after the performance, the group had a long wait until they heard the results. The waiting became tougher after the Trills didn’t win any of the competition’s special awards. These awards included: Outstanding Soloist, Vocal Percussion, Arrangement and Choreography.

But to their surprise, the group earned second place in the quarterfinal, and the second-highest score from the mid-Atlantic quarterfinal rounds that featured four other competitions.

“When they announced our name, I jumped three feet in the air,” Reichert said. “We were going up against groups that were formed 10-15 years ago and are 20 members strong. It was just incredible to hear them call our names.”

Varsity Vocals (the host of the ICCAs) received over 420 auditions and accepted 380 into the competition this year. With its second-place finish, the Towson Trills are currently considered one of the top 80 college a capella groups in the country. 

The Towson Trills will now compete in the mid-Atlantic semifinal on Saturday, March 25 in Wilmington, Delaware at the Playhouse on Rodney Square. If the Trills finish first in Delaware, the team will move onto the finals in New York City. 

But if the competition ended after the 25th, the Trills have already helped put Towson University a capella on the map.

“We’re starting to get recognized, and it’s just unreal,” Bayne said. “Towson University a capella isn’t really known on a competition level. We’re trying to break that and slowly increase our recognition in that community. And it’s just the seven of us.”

To keep up with the Towson Trills, follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can also check our some of their performances on their YouTube Channel.