Penka Kouneva is a composer for film, television, video games, and the concert stage. Her music has been called “fantastic” (Billboard), and “breath-taking” (NPR). Her credits include the video game Prince of Persia (with Steve Jablonsky), The Mummy VR game, the TV series Pandora on the CW network (with composer Joe Kraemer), multiple festival films at Berlinale (Ága) and Cannes (Dead Roses), and mainstream sci-fi and fantasy films (Encounter, Devil’s Whisper). In 2016, Penka scored the $30M NASA attraction Heroes and Legends at the Kennedy Space Center. Her orchestral albums The Woman Astronaut and Rebirth of Id have been released by Varèse Sarabande to rapturous critical reception. Commissioned by the Sofia Philharmonic, she composed the critically acclaimed Chernobyl Symphony, which received a sold-out premiere in March 2019. Together with Classic FM Symphony Orchestra, she co-produced The World of Video Games concert, which brought game fans into the classical symphony hall.
Penka’s composer awards include a Sundance fellowship, Distinguished Alumna of Duke University, two Ovation Awards, the Recognition Award from the Game Audio Network Guild, and others. In a career marked by many “firsts” (first-ever Ph.D. in composition at Duke, first woman lead orchestrator on multiple studio blockbusters, first woman to work on film and game titles grossing over $25 billion worldwide), Penka takes the deepest pride in having mentored and opened career-changing doors for over 50 young composers in Los Angeles, a quarter of them women. Born and raised in Bulgaria, Penka studied composition at Duke and since 2000 has worked and lived with her family in Los Angeles.