Clare McNamara on redefining failure and managing Imposter Syndrome

 “I needed to know that it wasn’t going to somehow be a failure if I tried this thing where there was no guarantee of success… if simply the attempt to do something would be seen as enough of a good thing, whether it led to any future in that subject or not. I knew that I would regret it one day if I hadn’t tried going down that path.”


This week I caught up with Clare McNamara, a Boston-based oratorio soloist, choral artist, and chamber musician.  Clare, who initially intended to pursue a more “practical” career in engineering before switching gears to follow her heart, has been praised for her “lushly evocative” and “otherworldly” performances. She will be performing with Lorelei Ensemble in the world premier of “The_Oper&” at Duke University on March 8-10th, 2018 (visit her website for details).

Some highlights from this episode include:

  • Choosing to pursue an artistic career over all “practical” considerations (5:30)
  • Redefining failure (14:50)
  • Learning to own your abilities and managing Imposter Syndrome (35:54)
  • Being an artist as someone who performs work that was created by someone else. (42:00)

Clare’s ensemble affiliations include Skylark Vocal Ensemble, Lorelei Ensemble, Cut Circle, Handel+Haydn Society, and the Boston Camerata. After making her New York debut as the alto soloist in St. Thomas Fifth Avenue’s 2017 performance of Handel’s Messiah, Clare makes her Boston Symphony Hall soloist debut in the Handel+Haydn Society’s 2018 performance of Bach’s Mass in B Minor. International festival credits include Laus Polyphoniae (Antwerp, Belgium), Tage Alter Musik Regensburg (Germany), and the Tenebrae Holy Week Festival (London, England). Recordings of Clare’s voice also accompany the modern dance troupe Pilobolus in their acclaimed piece “On the Nature of Things.” Almost an engineer, Clare’s very first job was at NASA. She holds an A.B. in Music from Princeton University and an M.M. in Early Music Performance from the Longy School of Music of Bard College. To learn more about Clare and see the full schedule of her upcoming performances, you can visit her website at

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