For graduating senior Iverson Eliopoulos, Commencement marks the culmination of almost 10 years worth of involvement with music at Tufts. Eliopoulos, a Medford native, joined the Tufts music community in middle school when he participated in the Department of Music’s Community Music Program and attended weekly Saturday morning classes in the Granoff Music Center. He continued in high school playing cello with the Tufts Youth Philharmonic, and he even squeezed his way into the back of the undergraduate orchestra for a performance during his senior year. Today, Eliopoulos is the principal cellist of the Tufts Symphony Orchestra and a household name around much of the Granoff Music Center.
“I definitely knew I wanted to study music,” he said, reflecting on his plans entering college. “[But] in what capacity I wanted to do [music] has definitely evolved over my four years at Tufts.”
Eliopoulos expressed gratitude for the opportunities he has been able to pursue through Tufts Music. He traveled with the symphony orchestra to Costa Rica in 2018 and to Italy in 2020, and cited those trips as some of the highlights of his college experience. He also performed with the Early Music Ensemble, the Klezmer Ensemble, Tufts Chamber Music and the Tufts Chamber Orchestra, and he conducted two operas and music directed a musical produced by Torn Ticket II.
Reflecting on four years of collegiate experience in the Department of Music, Eliopoulos said his work with the Opera Ensemble stands out most.
“I had never put together anything that large, musically, [by] myself,” he said. After conducting the two operas, he was able to arrive at a deep level of understanding for the music, a feeling he described as “extremely rewarding.”
Outside of Tufts, Eliopoulos has performed in Symphony Hall with the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, a prestigious regional ensemble led by renowned educator and conductor Benjamin Zander. While this experience and others fortified his already-established passion for classical music, Eliopoulos has focused recently on expanding his musical horizons and engaging in a broader range of study.
“In my first few years, I didn’t really venture outside the standard classical fare of classes, but I’m glad that I started to do that,” he said. “There’s so many different types of music you can do at the music department, and it really was an opportunity to open my world musically.”
Eliopoulos currently lives with a group of non-classical musicians, an experience that he said has shifted the lens through which he views the musical world.
“That’s definitely allowed me to explore music in ways that I didn’t think I would be,” he said. “And I’m definitely glad I did [explore], because it’s totally changed my perspective on what I want to do in the future.”
Eliopoulos also commented on the pandemic’s role in encouraging him to step outside his musical comfort zone.
“I have lost a little bit of interest right now in the classical industry,” he said. “And I think this pandemic has given me the opportunity to take a step back from [classical music] … and come back to it with a fresh take… new ideas, new ways of integrating it into other things that I like.”
As an example of his recently adjusted perspective on classical music, Eliopoulos is creating a podcast with several other music students in the Boston area. Titled “Classical Declassified,” the podcast will “break down some of what we feel are the problems in the classical industry today, and how they got to be this way, and what people are doing about it,” he said. Eliopoulos plans for the six-episode series to premiere in June, with availability on Spotify and other streaming services.
Post-graduation, Eliopoulos will study conducting in pursuit of a master’s degree at the New England Conservatory. He hopes to use his craft in the future to infuse more creativity into the classical music world.
“I used to always want to be a conductor of an orchestra … but I would really like to find a position where I can combine different artistic elements in order to create some sort of experience for an audience,” he said. “I want to be a conductor who collaborates with other types of musicians, because I feel like classical music misses out on that a lot.”
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Eliopoulos served as music director for two performances produced by the Tufts Opera Ensemble, when in fact he served as conductor. The Daily regrets this error.