Lynn Taylor Hebden, a Baltimore-born lyric soprano who headed the Peabody Preparatory Department for more than two decades and was also a member of the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory, died Sunday from complications of breast cancer at her Roland Park home. She was 84.
"I always sought her advice and historical perspective. She always was very interested and wanted to know how people on the faculty she had known were doing," said Carolee Stewart, the preparatory school's dean.
"Her mind was amazing. She remembered to the last detail things that had happened at Peabody. If I wanted to know how things evolved, I went to Lynn," said Dr. Stewart. "She was full of stories and knew more about Peabody than anyone. She shed light on the institution and never told the same story twice."
The daughter of a ship chandler and a homemaker, the former Lynn Taylor was born in Baltimore and raised in Homeland.
After graduating from Eastern High School in 1948, she enrolled at the Peabody Conservatory of Music, where she earned a teacher's certificate in 1951 in voice and won the Bach-Horstmeier Prize.
In 1954, Mrs. Hebden received the fourth artist diploma in voice ever awarded by the conservatory.
She joined the Preparatory Department faculty in 1952, where she taught voice, and remained until 1985. From 1971 to 1983, she served as its director. Mrs. Hebden was also on the conservatory faculty, where she taught voice, from 1963 until 1994.
In 1965, Mrs. Hebden planned the conservatory's pedagogy curriculum and four years later established an exchange program with city public schools.
"She was also notable for being the first Preparatory director who did not turn up for work dressed only in black with pearls," Anne Garside, who was then the Peabody's public relations director, wrote in a 1993 article in the Peabody News.
"During her tenure which coincided with difficult physical times for Peabody and a deteriorating plant, Lynn Hebden focused on the core mission, helping exceptionally talented young artists find engagements through her astonishing network of contacts, championing the Prep's outreach to Baltimore inner schools, and fighting the Prep's battles at Peabody trustee meetings where at one point one or two trustees even broached the idea of closing the Preparatory to save money," wrote Ms. Garside.
Concurrently with her teaching responsibilities, she was director of alumni relations for the Peabody Conservatory from 1983 until retiring in 1995.
In 1993, in recognition of her years at Peabody, Mrs. Hebden was presented the Johns Hopkins Alumni Heritage Award.
"Everybody knows Lynn, and she knew everyone who went through Peabody since 1951," said Debbie Kennison, director of constituent engagement at Peabody, and a friend and colleague for 20 years.
"Lynn had a great memory for everything. She was encyclopedic. No matter when anyone called and asked her about something, she gave them the full background," said Ms. Kennison. "She was a very no-nonsense but a good and solid person. She was a person you could always trust."
Paul A. Matlin, who since last year has been president of the Society of Peabody Alumni, graduated from Peabody in 1970 and again in 1972.
"She was a sweet, dear person and a favorite of the students and faculty," said Mr. Matlin. "She was the sort of person you could go to for advice and she was always very giving of her time."
In addition to her work and performing as a soloist at Peabody in its Candlelight Concerts and musical festivals, Mrs. Hebden also sang in oratorio and recital programs throughout Baltimore.
She sang in many area churches, some of which were University Baptist Church, Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church in Bolton Hill, and Baltimore Hebrew Congregation.
She also performed frequently as a soloist in the Baltimore-Washington area with various chamber music groups and sang with the Baltimore Park Band.
She was also co-founder in 1972 with Pamela Layman Quist and David Hogan of the Walden School for young composers between ages 9 and 18. It operated during summers in several locations in Maryland and Vermont, before locating in 1983 on the campus of the Dublin School in Dublin, N.H.
The school later expanded its programs to offer a teachers training institute and a musicians retreat for adults.
From 1973 to 1986, Mrs. Hebden was the school's secretary and treasurer, and was its business manager from 1986 to 1994. She was a member of its advisory board and was an emeritus director
Mrs. Hebden enjoyed gardening, gourmet cooking, traveling and genealogy.
Her husband of 55 years, Raymond Kenneth Hebden, a retired aircraft inspector and foreman of mechanics at Westinghouse Electric Corp., died in 2009.
She was a member of Grace United Methodist Church, where plans for a memorial service are incomplete.
Surviving are three sons, Kenneth L. Hebden of Lake Falls Village, Jeffrey T. Hebden of Ednor Gardens and Douglas S. Hebden of Reisterstown; and two grandchildren.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun