Born in Pittsburgh, Bonita Boyd grew up in Long Beach, California. Her early teachers included Maurice Sharp of the Cleveland Orchestra, Roger Stevens of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Joseph Mariano, principal flutist of the Rochester Philharmonic and legendary pedagogue of the Eastman School of Music. Boyd succeeded Mariano in both posts, becoming the youngest person in the United States to hold major academic and orchestral appointments, as noted by Glamour Magazine in its “Outstanding Career Women of the Year” feature.
At age 21, Boyd was named principal flutist of the Rochester Philharmonic under Maestro David Zinman, a position she resigned in 1984 to devote herself to her growing solo career. Boyd gave an acclaimed New York debut recital 1980. Three years later she made her Los Angeles debut and her first solo tours of Europe and the Far East. She has since performed as recitalist throughout the world and as soloist with such orchestras as the National Gallery Orchestra, National Symphony of the Dominican Republic, Chautauqua Symphony, Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia, Denver Chamber Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic, Pusan (Korea) Symphony Orchestra, Western Australia Symphony, Queensland Symphony, Polish Radio Orchestra, and Vilnius (Lithuania) Chamber Orchestra. She served as principal flutist of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (1971–1984), Chautauqua Symphony (1971–1977), and Filarmonica de las Americas (Mexico City). She has been a member of the artist faculties of such festivals as Chautauqua, Bowdoin, Johannesen International Festival, and Hamamatsu Seminar (Japan) and guest artist at Eastern Music Festival, Master Works, Marlboro, and the National Orchestral Institute. She is an artist faculty member of the Aspen and Aria International Festivals and co-principal flutist of the Aspen Festival Orchestra. She has also been a Fulbright Grant recipient.
Bonita Boyd has premiered and/or made the premiere recording of numerous works, including major solo and chamber works of Samuel Adler, Warren Benson, Miklos Rosza, Augusta Reed Thomas, Eric Sessler, David Liptak, Leonard Bernstein, Roberto Sierra, and Katherine Hoover. Her recording Flute Music of Les Six was honored by Stereo Review in its 1983 Record of the Year Awards and her Paganini Caprices CD was on the final ballot for a Grammy nomination. She concertizes regularly with renowned guitarist Nicholas Goluses, and the duo has recently released its second CD, Quicksilver, on Albany.
Boyd has been awarded the Eisenhart Award for Excellence in Teaching by the Eastman School of Music, and her students occupy major orchestral and teaching posts throughout the world. She recently celebrated 35 years of teaching at Eastman with the return of many students for a great party! She was married to the late Christian Soderstrom, a Swedish engineer, and she has three sons.
Boyd has served as president, chair of the board, board member, and program chair for the National Flute Association.