Our Musicians

Robert Duff

Robert Duff

Director of Music

Rob oversees the music program at Saint Cecilia and also serves on the faculty at Brandeis University as associate professor of the practice of choral music. At Brandeis University Rob oversees the vocal program, conducts the Brandeis choral ensembles, teaches conducting and choral methods, and serves as the performance track adviser for vocalists. Rob has served on the faculties of Dartmouth College, Pomona College, Claremont Graduate University and Mount St. Mary’s College. He holds degrees in conducting, piano, and voice from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Temple University and the University of Southern California. Additionally, he served as director of music for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. An active commissioner of new music, Rob has given several world premieres of works for both orchestral and choral forces. He served as counsel to the New Hampshire Council on the Arts and is the past president of the Eastern Region of the American Choral Directors Association.

Xuan He

Xuan He

Organist & Pianist

Xuan He, a versatile keyboardist, has appeared in concerts as an organist, pianist, and harpsichordist in the United States, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, and Singapore. He has been awarded prizes in many competitions, among them Wideman International Piano Competition, MTNA Young Artist Competition, and Kerikeri International Piano Competition. He has been heard in radio broadcasts, most notably on WFMT in Chicago and Radio New Zealand. He holds degrees from Northwestern University and Bowling Green State University, and spent a year studying early music with Richard Egarr and Menno van Delft in Amsterdam. He currently serves as Organist and Pianist at Saint Cecilia.

Maureen Brabec

Maureen Brabec

Soprano

Maureen was born and raised in the greater Chicagoland area. She is an apprentice at the Boston University Opera Institute where she sang Elaine in Musto’s Later the Same Evening and was cast as Vitellia in Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito (canceled due to COVID-19). She made her professional debut as First Lady in The Magic Flute with Opera Maine in summer 2019. While completing her MM in Voice at UCLA, she performed the roles of Sidia Gruenfeld in the West Coast premiere of Janice Hamer’s Lost Childhood, La Condesa in the workshop of Lucero’s Juana, and Susan B. Anthony in Thomson’s The Mother of Us All. She began singing in church choirs as a child, served as a cantor in high school and continued to be involved in liturgical music throughout her undergraduate and graduate studies.

Nathan Halbur

Nathan Halbur

Baritone

Nathan performs in solo and choral capacities throughout Boston and its environs. In addition to singing at Sunday liturgies at Saint Cecilia since September 2019, he has sung with ensembles including Emmanuel Music, Cantata Singers, and the Metropolitan Chorale (with whom he is Artist-in-Residence) and has appeared with the Boston Pops in their Holiday Pops Tour. Before moving to New England, Nathan lived in California, singing with Schola Cantorum at Sacred Heart Church in Sacramento, acting as Musical Director of the Davis Chamber Choir, and studying physics at the University of California, Davis. He is Artistic Director of Causeway Chamber Soloists (an organization dedicated to producing recitals and recordings of vocal chamber music) and is an active composer and arranger of vocal music. He is half of the jazz/neo-soul duo Dreamglow as vocalist, keyboardist, and producer.

Ryan Lustgarten

Ryan Lustgarten

Tenor

Ryan was born in Seattle, WA and is currently a first-year at the Boston University Opera Institute. He received his Bachelor of Music degree in voice and opera performance from Washington State University in 2016. While at WSU, he appeared both in operas and musical theater productions. Recently, Ryan spent two summers singing operatic roles for the Brancaleoni International Music Festival based in Piobbico, Italy. Ryan earned his master’s degree in opera performance this past spring from Northwestern University, and performed many operatic roles during his two years in the program. This summer, he will be performing with Central City Opera in Colorado as a member of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Studio Artists.

Caroline Nielson

Caroline Nielson

Mezzo Soprano

Caroline Nielson, a native of Dallas, Texas, is currently based in Boston where she is pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in vocal performance and pedagogy at the New England Conservatory of Music. Caroline completed an MM in voice performance and literature at the Eastman School of Music in 2017, as well as a BM at Belmont University in 2015, graduating summa cum laude with a degree in vocal performance and a minor in German. Caroline has performed numerous roles in operatic and musical theater productions and has been a young artist at Finger Lakes Opera and Opera in the Ozarks. An avid performer of chamber and choral music, Caroline actively performs in these genres in the Boston area. In 2020, she performed Schönberg’s seminal Pierrot Lunaire with NEC’s Contemporary Ensemble, as Diana in Cavalli’s Baroque masterpiece, La Calisto, with NEC Opera, and in the ensemble of Arnold Rosner’s The Chronicle of Nine with Odyssey Opera. She also co-founded the Versatile Voice Institute in the summer of 2020 and organized their inaugural online intensive for high school singers. Caroline also teaches voice to non-majors at NEC, in addition to teaching at the New School of Music in Cambridge and Bay Colony Performing Arts Center in Foxboro.