Born on December 6, 1935, in Manchester, New Hampshire, Paul Aliapoulios began his musical career as a clarinetist, saxophonist, conductor, and vocalist. He received his bachelor's degree from the University of New Hampshire in 1957. After stints as a public-school music teacher and army officer, he began graduate study at Boston University, where he taught woodwind classes, conducted the Varsity Band, and supervised student teachers. He completed a master of music in 1961 and a doctor of musical arts in 1970.
Aliapoulios was choral director at Weymouth High School from 1962 to 1966. From 1966 to 1972 he served on the faculty at East Carolina University, rising to associate professor and assistant dean in 1970. After chairing the music department at Miami University from 1972 to 1976, he joined the Northwestern conducting and music education faculty in 1976. At the School of Music he held a variety of administrative positions: associate dean of undergraduate studies (1976-84), associate dean of academic affairs (1984-94), acting dean (1989-90), acting chair of voice and opera (1991-94), co-chair of performance studies (1994-96), and chair of academic studies and composition (1997-2001). For his last seven years on the faculty, Aliapoulios carried a full teaching load as professor of music education. In 2000 the Northwestern Alumni Association honored him with its Excellence in Teaching Award.
Conductor of nearly 20 choral groups across the United States, Aliapoulios founded and led the Weymouth Civic Chorus and the Greenville (North Carolina) Community Chorus. He also conducted the Braintree (Massachusetts) Choral Society, the Frederick Smyth Chorale, and the Music Center of the North Shore Summer Chorale as well as the East Carolina Chamber Singers and the A Cappella Singers of Miami University. At Northwestern he served at various times as conductor of the University Chorus, University Singers, Women's Chorus, and Chorale. From 1984 to 2001 he was also music director of Kenilworth Union Church.
While on the faculty, Aliapoulios performed often as a baritone soloist and played saxophone in the Old Man's Jazz Band. He also served as an adjudicator and clinician for choral and instrumental ensembles throughout the United States. His wife, Janet, taught in the Winnetka Public Schools; they have three sons (all of whom earned degrees from Northwestern) and six grandchildren.