By Beth Black (in Feb 2019 pg. 75 of “The Parklander”, the family friendly magazine since 1991) - music instructor in Coral Springs Highly acclaimed Russian/American violist Dr. Leana Strouse was as bewildered and grief stricken as we all were on Feb. 14 when 17 lives were violently lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Dr. Strouse, who studied music under some of the most renowned musicians in Russia, played the violin and was the conductor of the Kiev Youth Orchestra prior to coming to the United States. Strouse is a music instructor in Coral Springs and said that her ties to Parkland are strong as some of her students are from that area.

Fortunately, none of her students were among the 17 but Strouse said some of the students were so grief stricken that they were unable to continue with their lessons. Strouse said she continued to ask herself “What can I do?” With preparations already underway for her December 2018 recital, Strouse made the decision that she would alter the program to honor the memory of the shooting victims.

A personal incident involving her husband, who has dementia, further cemented this decision. According to Strouse, her husband had an episode at their home and a call for help was made. Strouse indicated that her husband was confused and the incident with the authorities escalated. Her husband became more afraid, paranoid, and resistant. What ensued left Strouse in shock and disbelief. She describes the situation where she said her husband was beaten.

Strouse discusses the lack of responsibility she feels the police took in both the situation at Marjory Stoneman Douglas and with her husband. “No one is bringing those children back and my husband will never be the same. Music is my voice,” Strouse said, and she knew that she must use music in her words “as a warning to the innocent.”

During the recital, titled “In Honor of the 17 Lost,” some wore orange, the color of awareness. Strouse teaches three instruments: the violin, the piano, and viola. Some of the students played all three instruments during the program that took place at Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church on Dec.15, 2018. Strouse said the entire performance was done in minor as a somber reminder. The final piece, titled Panis Angelicus, was difficult to complete through the tears, Strouse adding that “life is precious.”