Organized in 1994, Techiya is the among the older Jewish a cappella groups. It was once the newest a cappella group on MIT’s campus, but that position is now held by the Ohms and Broadwaves. The idea and the name of Techiya go back a little further, to 1992 (give or take a year), when Shulamit Lerner organized a group of people to sing a few Chanuka songs at the annual lighting of the test tube Chanukiah (candelabrum).
Meet Techiya 1994-95. In our first year, we started by singing some simple four part arrangements of Chanuka and Purim songs. We also came up with our own brands of the Dreidel Song and O Sing Praises as only engineers could write them. In the spring we added songs like Bei Mir Bistu Shein and Cuando El Rey Nimrod, expanding our repertoire to four languages. In April we hosted a Boston Jewish a cappella concert, and performed with the other two groups that existed at the time, Manginah (Brandeis) and Mizmor Shir (Harvard).
Meet Techiya, Fall 1996. In our second year, we performed on parents’ weekend with the other MIT groups, and we performed at the General Assembly of Combined Jewish Philanthropies with another new group, Kol B’yachad (Brown). In January, we visited Yale to perform with Magevet. By the spring, we were able to put together a long enough program to host our own concert.
In 1996, we hosted a fall concert at which the two newest Boston area Jewish a cappella groups, Kol Echad (BU) and Shir Appeal (Tufts), performed with us. Also in November, we performed at Hebrew College together with all five of the Boston area Jewish groups. In March, we performed at BU with Kol Echad, Kol Hakavod (Michigan), and Beat’achon, a semi-professional group from New York. Our first paid concert was for the Boston Chapter of the Womens’ Division of the American Technion Society. Later we recorded our first album, Half-Life, which came out in 2002.
Techiya ultimately went on hiatus for a few years. In the fall of 2006, one remaining member of Techiya organized a small group of students interested in singing Jewish music together to sing for a couple of hours on the weekend. This relatively informal gathering was known as Techiyke.
In the spring of 2007, the participants in Techiyke formally reconstituted Techiya as a full-fledged a cappella group and held auditions. Their first public performance was at the MIT Hillel Purim party that spring, followed by the Campus Preview Weekend a cappella festival known as SGIBS.
Since then, in addition to its own semesterly concert, Techiya has been performing regularly at bar mitzvahs, nursing homes, JCCs, and Boston Jewish a cappella events. Techiya has also been a regular participant in the Jewish Collegiate Festival for the Performing Arts, hosted every year by the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City.
(Last updated September 7, 2010, by Rachel Adler, with help from Benjamin Epstein)