Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History
Tufts Night at the Pops, 1901
Tufts Night at the Pops takes place every year on the Thursday night before commencement. The program generally includes a performance of Tufts songs, and recently has included performances by Tufts groups such as the Beelzebubs during intermission.
The first Tufts Night at the Pops was held on May 29, 1901 at newly opened Symphony Hall in Boston. Professor Leo R. Lewis, at the time head of the music department, initiated and coordinated the event. He also conducted a number of Tufts songs during the program, including "Dear Alma Mater," which Lewis wrote. On Tufts Night, the university buys out the 2304 seats in Symphony Hall, and makes the tickets available for alumni, faculty, trustees, and students. From the beginning, it has always been a sold out event. In the early years of Tufts Night, the gatherings got relatively raucous. Tufts students sang along with university songs, danced, waved Tufts banners, and drank wine, beer, and champagne. Occasionally, the planned program was interrupted by an unplanned version of the Tufts College Cheer. The alcohol-fueled rowdiness caused the program to be cancelled in 1914, but it was reinstated the next year after many students protested the cancellations. On the thirtieth anniversary of Tufts Night in 1931, Arthur Fiedler, then conductor of the Pops, presented Professor Lewis, who conducted a few numbers every year, with a Paul Revere silver bowl "for having led the Pops orchestra for a longer number of years than any other conductor." Tufts, in fact, was the first college to have a special night at Symphony Hall.
Since its inception, Tufts Night at the Pops has been one of the most popular events of Senior Week. The program still occasionally features Tufts performers, and has even been televised on WGBH as part of the "Evening at Pops" series.
Source: AO#14, TW, TAR