She may have gained a reputation as a lucky person during her prolific career in the Fargo-Moorhead arts community, but this time, even luck can’t help Linda Boyd.
Boyd is in her last week as executive director of the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra (FMSO). Headed toward retirement, one of her final tasks includes making the world’s largest binder for her replacement, Paul Hegland.
But before she can sail off into the sunset, she must first face a panel of her peers who are ready to poke fun at Boyd, all for a good cause. “Linda Boyd, Lightly Roasted” is a retirement dinner including musical performances slated for 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1, at the Delta by Marriott hotel in Fargo. Proceeds from the dinner will support young musicians with a new honorary fund in Boyd’s name called “Kids in the [Concert] Hall.”
Guest speakers include Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney, FMSO Music Director Christopher Zimmerman, President & CEO of The Arts Partnership Dayna Del Val and more.
On a windy evening in her south Fargo home, Boyd whips up a simple recipe she learned in India. In between chopping jalapenos and potatoes, she shares some funny stories.
Boyd follows a few cardinal rules in the kitchen that crossed over to her professional life. First, never add as much water as the recipe says. Next, always build one layer of flavor on the next. And, of course, don’t shy away from spice.
“She’s done it all in music, but I think the symphony job fit her so well because she was able to put all her talents to work,” says Debora Harris, a longtime friend and former colleague when Boyd briefly taught at Minnesota State University Moorhead.
As principal flutist of the FMSO, Harris saw Boyd’s start as executive director in the ’90s while serving as president of the board. Their unique friendship grew alongside a working relationship with the cornerstone performing arts group.
“Usually the saying is “no one’s irreplaceable,” but I think Linda comes as close to proving that wrong as anyone I know,” says Harris.
In 1996, Linda left the symphony and co-founded a recording studio in her home. Her relationship with Harris further developed as they recorded albums together. In 2007, Boyd returned to the FMSO.
“Without a doubt, Linda skated by on luck in so many things, it was just infuriating to be honest,” Sara Granger says with a laugh about the 12 years she worked with Boyd at FMSO. “She would get up on stage and say I’m the luckiest person in town, but I don’t even know how she got away with some of this stuff.”
Granger alludes to a story when Boyd left her car running for several hours in downtown Fargo with the keys in the ignition and windows rolled down. It may have been luck, or perhaps just the fact that she was driving an old town car.
Boyd has a long history of community engagement, having served as a Fargo city commissioner for four years, with a stint as deputy mayor from 2006 to 2008. Her civic engagement has ranged from being a Fargo School Board member for eight years to serving currently on The Arts Partnership Board.
Boyd’s also directed music at various churches throughout the area, including First Congregational United Church of Christ in Moorhead.
“We got the best of community music right in that little church,” says Clare Degerness, who witnessed Boyd’s musical leadership firsthand. “Just the way she relates to people is very accepting. Linda could correct things that were going wrong but in such a gentle way. She was directing a good old dedicated church choir.”
While Boyd insists she is officially retiring, her legacy continues on through the music of creative groups all around the area, ranging from grand symphonies to small church choirs.
What: “Linda Boyd, Lightly Roasted” retirement dinner benefit
When: 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1
Where: Delta by Marriott, 1635 42nd Sts SW, Fargo
Info: Tickets available online for $35; tickets.fmsymphony.org
This article is part of a content partnership with the Fargo Forum and appeared in print on Monday October 28 2019.