Leslie Ludena was born in Palo Alto to a pianist and a Naval officer. Her mother was an avid opera enthusiast, and attended a performance of Madame Butterfly at the San Francisco Opera eight weeks before Leslie was born. After her family relocated to the East Coast when Leslie was 5, she grew up in a Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C., where she studied with William Steck, Concertmaster of the National Symphony. Leslie began her professional career at fifteen, playing in several orchestras in the D.C. Metro area. She then attended Eastman School of Music, where she continued her training with Charles Castleman and Peter Salaff. She returned to Washington, freelancing throughout the area and joining the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra in 1995, where she performed opera, ballet, and Broadway musicals for three seasons.
In 1998, Leslie returned to California to accept a second violin position in the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, where she has further cultivated a lifelong enjoyment of the art form. Her colleagues have come to know that Leslie is an opera history buff, and often ask her about the works being performed, even if she may share more than they really need or want to know.
Outside the music world, Leslie enjoys cooking, driving back roads in Sonoma County, hiking, gardening, and catching up with her four nieces and nephew whenever she can. Her newest hobby is using her Dobsonian telescope and attempting astrophotography. Leslie is an animal lover who has always delighted in spending time with canine friends and their people, and has had several wonderful cats in her life over the years.