Opera company head and artist laments pandemic effects

by Len Lear
Posted 12/11/20

Sandy Day is a triple threat, a talented artist whose paintings have been exhibited in many venues in Northwest Philadelphia and beyond, an acclaimed opera singer and president of the Delaware Valley Opera Company (DVOC).

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Opera company head and artist laments pandemic effects

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Sandy Day is a triple threat, a talented artist whose paintings have been exhibited in many venues in Northwest Philadelphia and beyond, an acclaimed opera singer and president of the Delaware Valley Opera Company (DVOC) in East Falls and a music instructor at Maplewood Music Studio (Germantown and Chestnut Hill) and Ancillae Assumpta Academy in Wyncote for 20 years.

Needless to say, everything that Sandy excels at and squeezes enjoyment from has been curtailed or worse by the pandemic. But it has not been all bad for Sandy. “My income mostly comes from my vocal teaching,” she told us last week. “This is very difficult but not impossible to do during a pandemic. I have been able to maintain about two-thirds of my students through virtual teaching. There are those who only wanted to have lessons in person, so for the moment, they have gone by the wayside.”

Sandy has performed many of the leading soprano roles in the operatic repertoire such as Tosca, Madame Butterfly, Manon, Amelia in “La Forza del Destino,” Violetta and many more.

Regarding her art, Sandy said, “I have been able to do some paintings. Before this pandemic, I wouldn’t have had the time to take walks in parks like I do now, which has given me the opportunity to see some wonderful outdoor settings in the Philadelphia area. I had five paintings on exhibit at the Attic Brewing Company in Germantown. Unfortunately, we had to remove them with the pandemic and hopefully we will be able to put them up again after this is over. I was able to sell a watercolor there before Covid-19 came about.”

Day's art was also exhibited at Le Bus in East Falls, although almost no one can see it now. Regarding the DVOC, as with most production companies, they have pretty much come to a halt. “We are hoping to perhaps do some virtual performances in the Spring and present previous performances on YouTube as special events for a limited time frame.

“Our Summer Festival 2020 was scrapped. It doesn’t look good for next summer either. Normally, we have many small concerts during the off-season, mainly in retirement communities. These have given us income to help us with our everyday expenses. Obviously, that is no longer an option as well as any of our other concerts that we perform during the winter.”

What about Day's students from Maplewood Music Studio and Ancillae Assumpta Academy in Wyncote being taught via Zoom? “I have been able to teach my Maplewood students virtually, those who wanted to. In the early summer of 2019,  I decided to leave Ancillae Assumpta Academy after teaching there for 20 years. I value all of the time I spent there and am happy to limit my teaching now to Maplewood Music Studio and to my private students.”

Sandy grew up in Missouri but wound up at the University of Pennsylvania, studying there while working in order to allow her husband to get his Ph.D. She spent 20 years in private vocal study in Philadelphia, New York and France. Although Sandy never received a formal education in art school, she was working in the Architecture School at the University of Pennsylvania and watched how the drawing instructor taught his students..

Is Sandy optimistic or pessimistic about the future of her music and art? “I am an optimist at heart and believe we will get through this and then continue as before with many more virtual ideas. I would hope since there has been such a dearth of performances, the performing companies of the world will be more appreciated after this. You really don’t know what you have until it is not there. 

“My sadness of this pandemic is for the performers nearing the end of their careers and not being able to perform before retiring. That is a shame. This is what happened to many performers in World War II. As far as my art, well, it has always been difficult for artists to sell paintings and other works of art.  The only optimistic note is that places for viewing the art will reopen, and it will give all artists a better opportunity to exhibit and sell their works.”

For more information, visit SandyDaysArtDreams.com or dvopera.org. Len Lear can be reached at lenlear@chestnuthilllocal.com

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