Penka Kouneva is a Sundance Composer Fellow and a rising Hollywood film composer who blends her native Eastern European influences with modern orchestra, medieval chant, rock, and electronica. Recently, she composed additional score for the video games Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands (2010) (VG) and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) (VG), working alongside the “Transformers” composer, Steve Jablonsky. Solo scores include the horror feature Midnight Movie (2008), the crime drama The Third Nail (2008), the Sci-Fi Channel thriller Ice Spiders (2007) (TV) and TV music for “Forensic Files” (2000), “Dogfights” (2005) and “Modern Marvels” (1994). In addition to scoring, Penka is an orchestrator on film soundtracks including Transformers 1, 2, Pirates Of The Caribbean 3, Angels And Demons, 9, Hostel I and II, Matrix 2, 3, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005) and videogames such as World Of Warcraft, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty (2010) (VG), Sims 3, and Gears of War 2 (2008) (VG).
Penka was born and raised in Sofia, Bulgaria, started piano lessons at 6 and wrote incidental music for children’s theater at 12. In 1990, she ventured out of post-communist Bulgaria and came to the US to make a life for herself as a composer. She had $130 in her pocket and a Duke University composition fellowship. In 1997, she made history at Duke by receiving the first-ever Doctorate in Composition from this distinguished institution. At Duke, she studied with Steve Jaffe, Scott Lindroth and with the Dutch postmodern minimalist Louis Andriessen. Penka also enjoyed a successful career as a concert composer. Soon after Penka arrived in Los Angeles in 1999, she began her career as an orchestrator for Emmy-winning composer Patrick Williams. Later that year, Cliff Eidelman gave Kouneva her first scoring break, the Holocaust drama Shadows (2000/I). Other composers who played a major part in Kouneva’s career would be Bruce Fowler and Lee Holdridge. Penka Kouneva has since been honored with the Aaron Copland Award, the Sundance Institute Composer Lab Fellowship and Meet the Composer Award.