Leslie Straka joined the University of Oregon faculty in 1987, teaching viola and chamber music and performing regularly with the Oregon String Quartet. She served as chair of the string department from 1993–2006.
Prior to joining the University of Oregon faculty, Straka was on the faculty at the University of Miami. Her viola teachers have included William Magers, Walter Trampler, Paul Doktor, and Donald McInnes. She performed in the master classes of Gregor Piatigorsky, Eduard Melkus, and Max Rostal, among others. In 1978 Straka was awarded first place in the Collegiate Artist Competition of the Arizona Music Teachers Association, and was the national first place winner of the National Federation of Music Clubs Competition. With pianist Walter Cosand, she recorded the Brahms viola sonatas, released in 2004.
Straka has performed extensively as a soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States and Europe, collaborating with many outstanding musicians. She has been a featured artist at the Luzerne Chamber Music Center in New York, Festival Miami, the Miami Bach Society, the University of Oregon Chamber Music Series, the Oregon Bach Festival, the Red Lodge Festival in Montana, the Mainly Mozart and Flagstaff Festivals in Arizona, and the York Festival in England.
Straka has been a member of the Oregon String Quartet since 1987. The quartet has recorded two compact discs, both released by Koch International Classics. The Oregon String Quartet and All That Jazz is composed of quartet music influenced by jazz and rock, and features guest jazz violinist Diane Monroe. On their other CD, the quartet performs works by the early 20th century African-American composer William Grant Still. The Oregon String Quartet continues to perform and record new compositions, including recent works by composers Livingston Gearhart, Victor Steinhardt, and David Crumb.