July 22, 2017
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  • Competing in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella for the first time, against many groups twice their size, the Towson Trills made it to the finals in New York City in April.
    Competing in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella for the first time, against many groups twice their size, the Towson Trills made it to the finals in New York City in April.
  • Competing in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella for the first time, against many groups twice their size, the Towson Trills made it to the finals in New York City in April.
    Competing in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella for the first time, against many groups twice their size, the Towson Trills made it to the finals in New York City in April.
  • Competing in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella for the first time, against many groups twice their size, the Towson Trills made it to the finals in New York City in April.
    Competing in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella for the first time, against many groups twice their size, the Towson Trills made it to the finals in New York City in April.

CHS Grads Lead Towson Trills A Cappella Group To ICCA Glory

Zach Sparks
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May 18, 2017

Less than two years ago, when Chesapeake High graduates Harmony Reichert and Katie Sacha wanted to practice their a cappella routines with their group, they had to sing in stairwells or persuade random students to sign in the other members as guests at Reichert’s dorm because she had reached her visitor limit. On April 22, that dedication paid off as they competed in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) finals. 

A Freak Accident

Known for their stacked harmonies and dubstep feel, the seven-member Towson Trills are Reichert, Sacha, bass and music director Leroy Hyson, vocal percussionist Aaron Bayne, alto Abby Reinhold, baritone Brian Lim and tenor William Damanka.

Reichert called the union a “freak accident,” saying that she and Sacha were looking to start a vocal group at the same time that Hyson, Bayne and Reinhold met at an open mic event. Later, they held auditions to replace a departing member, and they were so impressed by Lim and Damanka that they added them both.

After winning the 2015 Towson University Homecoming Talent Show with a mash-up of Alex Clare’s “Too Close” and “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons, Towson Trills started securing gigs. They later decided to enter the ICCA.

The singers normally rehearse four hours a week, but between ICCA events, they practiced around 20 hours a week.

“We went into it saying, ‘Let’s have fun,’ and we’re going up against groups that have been doing it for 10 and 15 years, and this was our first year,” said Reichert, an alto. “We weren’t expecting to win anything.”

ICCA Quarterfinals

A YouTube video earned the seven-member ensemble entry into the mid-Atlantic quarterfinals on February 25. Only two groups from each region would advance to the next round.

Most groups had twice as many members as the Towson Trills. Even though the small group size was by choice, Reichert noted that it was still intimidating to hear the booming voices of acts twice their size.

“We heard the group before us go and we were like quaking in our boots,” Reichert said. “The sound of this group was huge. But we went out there and said, ‘People came to see us and they paid money, so let’s give them a show.’”

In the ICCA mid-Atlantic quarterfinal, the Towson Trills performed three songs: “Death of a Bachelor” by Panic! at the Disco, a mash-up of “Apologize” by One Republic and “Unsteady” by X Ambassadors, and Fergie’s “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got).”

University of Delaware’s Vocal Point won by 11 points, but the Towson Trills came in second (the Trills beat third-place finisher Vocal Chords from Johns Hopkins University by 72 points).

Outstanding Work At Semifinals

Building on the success of the last round, the Towson Trills took the stage at Rodney's Playhouse Square in Delaware on March 25 for the semifinals.

Leading up the performance, Reichert and Sacha enlisted the help of a familiar face, Chesapeake vocal teacher Mike Brisentine.

“We worked with Mike Brisentine because he helped [University of Maryland a cappella group] Faux Paz out when they were in the finals a few years ago and he knew what he was doing,” Reichert said.

They again performed the same three-song set, but this time, they finished first, giving them the title of mid-Atlantic champion. Hyson notched Outstanding Arrangement and beatboxer Aaron Bayne earned Outstanding Vocal Percussion.

On Broadway

For the finals in New York City on April 22, the Towson Trills performed at the Beacon Theatre, a venue known for its Broadway productions.

Reichert said she lost her voice and had to surrender her trumpet solo. Despite the setback, that change allowed other members to step up. “When we do our set, we try to make sure every member has a moment to shine,” Reichert said.

The Northeastern University Nor'Easters won the competition. Although they didn’t earn first place, the Towson a cappella group set several milestones. The Towson Trills tied for the smallest group to ever reach the ICCA finals. They were the first group from Towson University to ever place at the ICCAs. They made it to the final 10 of 387 groups.

Looking Ahead

The Towson Trills are not taking a hiatus after the ICCA victory, but they will look for another member because Lim is leaving.

On May 5, they performed at Chesapeake High during a concert for Evolve, the high school’s a cappella group. The Towson Trills will continue booking gigs while they search for sponsors to help them front the cost to record an album.

Music lovers can find them on Facebook at “Towson Trills A Cappella” and Twitter @TowsonTrills. Reichert, whose parents sang together under former Chesapeake High music teacher Karen Simmons, said she is excited to continue performing and seeing what the next year brings for the a cappella group.

“If you look at our audition video from the semifinal to the quarterfinal to the final, you can see the progress we made in such a short time,” Reichert said. “It was just the most amazing moment ever.”


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