Convert starts co-ed a cappella group with missionary mindset

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A convert to the Church and lifetime musician started a BYU co-ed a capella group, Beyond Measure, to help others feel the peace he found in the gospel.

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BYU’s co-ed a capella group, Beyond Measure. (Aubrey Young)

Growing up in Las Vegas, Eric Corpuz engulfed himself in academic and extracurricular activities, including marching band, cross country and student councils. He thrived on keeping involved and developing talents.

For the first time in his high school’s history, the band director chose a sophomore, Corpuz, to be the “drum major” from 2006 to 2009. The drum major in a marching band is usually a junior or senior and leads the band under the director.

“That was a huge deal for me. I was excited that my face was going to be everywhere and I was given this great honor,” Corpuz said. “But at that point, I didn’t anticipate how hard and time- consuming that responsibility would be, especially on top of everything else I had going on.”

While on cloud nine from the opportunity to be the drum major, Corpuz took on many other stresses at that same time. He was having to spend more time on cross country training and practices. He also began taking advanced placement classes, which came with many hours of studying.

“I was always used to just sailing through school and managing my time for activities really well,” he said. “But school was suddenly extremely hard, and I wasn’t able to give 100 percent to other things anymore.”

The pressures of these things compiled on top of each other began to leave Corpuz feeling unbalanced and confused.

One of the advanced placement classes Corpuz took in high school was world history, which Corpuz said was mainly the history of the Catholic church.

“I was a very strong Catholic at the time. I even started teaching Sunday School each week,” Corpuz said. “But my AP class, along with teaching on Sundays, began raising doubts and questions in my mind about the Catholic doctrine.”

On top of the academic and extracurricular pressure, this confusion added to the stress in his life.

“I had one particular friend who watched me go from a happy-go-lucky Eric, to a sad and depressed Eric because all of these things in my life were getting me down,” Corpuz said. “One night that I was particularly struggling, he called me up at just the right time. An important friendship bloomed from there.”

Corpuz began spending time around the friend’s family and saw their LDS lifestyle. Corpuz eventually began reading the Book of Mormon and taking lessons from the missionaries.

“The first lesson I had with the missionaries basically sealed the deal. I felt like all the questions and hesitations I had about the Catholic church were resolved,” Corpuz said. “My parents were initially against me joining the Church, and so I wasn’t able to get baptized until I was 18 years old.”

Just a year after being baptized in 2009, Corpuz was called to serve as a missionary in the Quezon City Philippines mission.

The call served as a blessing not only for him but for his family as well.

“I was unsure about a mission for a really long time, especially because it was such a foreign concept for my family,” Corpuz said. “But the specific area where I was called was an immense blessing because both of my parents are Filipino, and that warmed them up to the idea of me serving a mission.”

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Eric Corpuz had the idea to start Beyond Measure and is watching his dream unfold. (Nathalie Van Empel)

Music had always been a large aspect of Corpuz’s life – he began playing the piano at 6 years old. Then he picked up playing the clarinet for his high school’s nationally ranked marching band. It wasn’t until his mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that he developed his love for vocal performing.

In the Missionary Training Center, a sister missionary complimented his singing voice and suggested that he try out for a missionary performance. Corpuz had never before thought about his talents as a singer. It sparked a new interest for him.

“Since I never had pianos or clarinets on my mission, the only avenue I had to express myself through music was to sing,” Corpuz said. “I started to be known as the elder who loves to sing.”

Corpuz created choirs in many of the areas where he served and took joy in helping others feel the Spirit through musical numbers.

Upon returning home, he carried the passion back with him and began taking vocal lessons at BYU and then from the same coach who taught David Archuleta.

BYU has two established a cappella groups: the all-male Vocal Point, and the all-female Noteworthy. The tryouts are competitive for both, and only a few new members enter each year.

Corpuz and a friend auditioned for Vocal Point and didn’t make it that year. They began to joke in class about starting a group of their own. Within a couple days, their jokes turned into reality. They made flyers, began marketing on social media and holding auditions just a couple weeks later in April of 2013.

“The whole thing just skyrocketed out of nowhere,” Corpuz said. “My dreams were becoming a reality right before my eyes. My dreams also turned into dreams of a dozen others’ as well.”

Jake Slater, a senior studying public relations at BYU, became part of the group.

“It’s a great feeling to be a part of the start of something that will hopefully have a lasting effect on BYU,” Slater said. “It will be cool to see where the group is at 10 years from now and know that I helped pioneer it.”

Not only did Beyond Measure qualify for the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella its first year, but it placed second in the semi-final round. That put it at 12th place of about 800 across the nation.

The group’s director, Keith Evans, is a former member of BYU’s Vocal Point. Corpuz remains the group’s manager.

Both Vocal Point and Beyond Measure would say their purpose is to be missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Jessica Porter, a senior at BYU and member of Beyond Measure, explained this motivation.

“We realize that if we don’t have a missionary mindset we don’t have a purpose,” Porter said. “Our goal is to help people feel the Spirit through music because we know it is happiness for us and can bring happiness to others.”

When all is said and done, Corpuz wants Beyond Measure to leave the audience with a good feeling. He works hard to make sure the group can deliver that.

Skyler Holman, a member of Beyond Measure, explained how Corpuz unifies the group and keeps things rolling smoothly.

“Eric is a born leader. He is motivated and takes immediate action when something needs to be done,” Holman said. “He’ll stop at nothing to make sure things are done well, not only in music, but in all aspects of his life.”

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