Three a capella groups have strong ties to the religious community
Gospel Choir is one of MIT’s Christianity-based music singing groups. Founded over 35 years ago, their 30-some members come from a a variety of Christian backgrounds. The group provides an opportunity to practice while they preach, with prayer and scripture readings during rehearsals.
“Gospel Choir is not just a singing group. We’re a family who is also deeply in love with Jesus Christ,” said Chelsie W. Librun ’13, “It’s not uncommon for us to break out of our official list of songs, whether it’s during our concert or during our practices, just because we love just singing to Jesus.”
One of Gospel Choir’s premiere events is Gospel Fest, a gathering of several Boston-area collegiate gospel music groups. Although the event doesn’t always go off without a hitch, it still provides an opportunity for the group to grow closer.
“Last year, … our director quit on us a few days before [Gospel Fest], so we not only didn’t have a director, but we had no band as well,” recalled Joy S. Ekuta ’13, “Everyone came together to have extra rehearsals, find some of our friends to be the band, and we had a better concert run as a family out of love, free to the community to enjoy.”
Techiya is an MIT a capella group devoted to Jewish, Hebrew, and Israeli music. Although most of the music they perform is in Hebrew, Techiya’s repertoire includes a wide variety of styles. According to assistant music director Mauro Braunstein G, their current songs include “a very popular song from 1920’s-ish Yiddish theater … a pre-Renaissance Sephardic love song in Ladino … [and] a modern Israeli pop song in Hebrew.”
The group has strong connections to the Jewish community; they sing at temples, Hillel’s Shabbat dinners, and the annual Test Tube Menorah Lighting. They also include non-Jewish members.
“I was raised without any religious influences, so I was always indifferent to religion and didn’t understand why people would choose to spend so much time participating in religious activities,” said Techiya President Jessica M. Noss ’14, “However, many of my closest friends now are Jewish grad students, so last semester I started attending their Shabbat dinners and Hillel-sponsored social events. I’ve discovered that religion is not as simple as ‘believing or not believing’; it’s something that brings people together through shared customs, and — at least in my experience with Judaism — it doesn’t even matter whether people believe.’”
The Cross Products are a multi-denominational Christian a capella group founded in 1988. The 17 member team is devoted to spreading the word of Jesus Christ through music; they perform around MIT and elsewhere. The most memorable concerts for Yusung “John” Lim ’12 are “the performances that we do during our spring breaks. This year, we went to Pittsburgh and sang at a Christian homeless shelter that gives men a place to stay as they get back up on their feet. More than just the singing, it was amazing to get to talk to the men and for both parties to share the grace that we’ve been given and see how our faith has changed our lives.”
The group also has strong ties to the greater Christian community. “We are a part of the United Christian Organization (UCO) so we are connected to a large part of the Christian community on campus,” Lim said, “In addition, many of our members are involved in Christian fellowships. Part of our ministry as the Cross Products is to run sound for the other a cappella groups and other events such as the UCO Praise Night and Registration Day Services.”