Clare McNamara, Mezzo-soprano
Praised for her “lushly evocative mezzo” and “attentive and precise” musicianship, Clare McNamara brings her signature vocal quality and sensitive interpretation to a wide variety of repertoire throughout the United States and abroad. Clare has performed at Boston’s Symphony Hall, Jordan Hall, and Tanglewood’s Seiji Ozawa Hall, among other prestigious venues. In addition to an active solo career, Clare maintains affiliations with several ensembles including Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society, Lorelei Ensemble, Skylark Vocal Ensemble, Cut Circle, the Boston Camerata, Colla Parte, and Tapestry.
Though particularly adept at early and new music, Clare’s unique instrument is suited to many kinds of repertoire and is only growing in versatility. As a soloist, Clare made her critically-acclaimed Jordan Hall debut with The Boston Cecilia in Bach’s Mass in B Minor. Recently, she performed the role of Mother in Stephen Paulus’ modern church opera The Three Hermits with Harvard University Choir under Edward Elwyn Jones. She has also performed as alto soloist in several oratorios with organizations such as Coro Allegro, The Newton Choral Society, and the Tufts University Choirs.
Clare has been a core member of Lorelei Ensemble, Boston’s groundbreaking 9-voice women’s vocal ensemble, since 2011. Lorelei has been hailed by the Boston Globe as “audacious and impressive” and was recently featured in the New York Times article, “Early-Music Ensembles: Praised as Pure but Seeking More.” Throughout the years, Clare’s solo turns with Lorelei have been called “gorgeous” (ArtsFuse), and “exquisite” (Boston Musical Intelligencer). In 2017, Clare will make her Carnegie Hall debut as part of Lorelei when the ensemble joins The Boston Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Andris Nelsons as the octet of voices featured in George Benjamin’s “The Dream of the Song”; Clare and Lorelei will also join the BSO for performances of the same piece at Boston’s Symphony Hall. In 2016, Clare and Lorelei performed the Benjamin for their Tanglewood debut as part of the Festival of Contemporary Music at Seiji Ozawa Hall.
Clare is now in her fourth season as an active member of the performing roster of the prestigious Handel+Haydn Society in Boston, appearing in this season’s Bach Magnificat and Handel’s Semele and Messiah, among others. Also a core member of Skylark Vocal Ensemble since 2012, Clare has appeared with the ensemble in various performances, including a Rachmaninoff Vespers at Spivey Hall at Clayton State University (Morrow, GA) and a Spring 2017 tour of Poulenc’s notoriously difficult choral cantata Figure Humaine.
Internationally, Clare has performed frequently with Cut Circle, an American early music group dedicated to recapturing the gritty, intense experience of singing early music. With Cut Circle, she made her European debut performing at the Musica Sacra Festival in Maastricht, Netherlands, and has also joined the group at the AMUZ/Laus Polyphoniae 2015 Festival-Conference in Antwerp, Belgium, and the Tage Alter Music Festival in Regensberg, Germany. Recently, Clare and her fellow musicians served as professional science guinea pigs at the Max-Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt Germany, donning electro-encephalogram helmets designed to measure activity in the singer’s brain.
In the recording studio, Clare is featured on modern composer Pablo Ortiz’s work “Maizal de gregoriano” with Sebastian Zubieta and the Americas Society (NYC), with Grammy-winning classical producer Judith Sherman. She provided solo vocals for “On the Nature of Things,” commissioned by the internationally-recognized modern dance troupe Pilobolus Dance Theatre from composers Michelle DiBucci and Ed Bilous. Pilobolus maintains this work as a regular centerpiece of their active performance repertoire. Clare has been a part of three Lorelei recordings: “live.know.love”; “Reconstructed”, which features new Americana pieces; and the upcoming “Impermanence” with Sono Luminus, which includes several commissioned works alongside all-female renditions of Renaissance polyphony. With Skylark Vocal Ensemble, she can be heard on “forgotten dreams,” “Crossing Over” (with Sono Luminus), and on their upcoming untitled project, also with Sono Luminus.
In recent years, Clare has developed a fascination with the music of Hildegard von Bingen. She routinely prepares transcriptions of her work and provides performance coaching in order to align performances with the nuances of the original neumatic notation. In addition to frequently performing Hildegard with Lorelei and Skylark, Clare has sung the role of Humilitas in her Ordo Virtutum (Ensemble Musica Humana).
Clare has degrees from Princeton University and The Longy School of Music. She currently resides in Boston.
→ More info may be found on Clare’s website.