Interview with Penka Kouneva


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Welcome to the latest in the continuing series of film, TV and video game composer interviews on the CINEMATIC SOUND RADIO NETWORK.

Penka Kouneva arrived in Hollywood in the year 2000 with dreams of working as a composer in the film industry, but with no money or connections. The classically trained musician was born in Sofia, Bulgaria and came to the U.S. in 1990 to study music at Duke University, where she achieved a PhD in composition. Since arriving in Los Angeles 20 years ago, Penka has been led by determination and has managed to work as an accomplished orchestrator and composer for videos games (LEAGUE OF LEGENDS, PRINCE OF PERSIA, and THE MUMMY) and feature films (Oscar contender AGA, Sony Pictures’ ENCOUNTER and DEVIL'S WHISPER).

In 2019, Penka scored The CW Network’s sci-fi drama PANDORA from creator Mark A. Altman—her first network television series in collaboration with Joe Kraemer. PANDORA is set in the year 2199, where a young woman named Jax who has lost everything, finds a new life at Earth's Space Training Academy where she learns to defend the galaxy from intergalactic threats. The co-composers created a futuristic-sounding orchestral-hybrid score and utilized their individual strengths, but ultimately created something coherent and stylistically holistic.

The composer had a fascination with the sci-fi genre at an early age, given that her father was a scientist. And because she grew up in Bulgaria (a former communist country), she was intrigued by planes and rockets because they symbolized freedom to her. Much like the main character in PANDORA, Penka forged her own path undaunted by challenges—all she had were big dreams and ambition.

In June 2020, for the CINEMATIC SOUND RADIO NETWORK, Jason Drury spoke to Penka Kouneva via Zoom at her home in Los Angeles. During the show, they will talk about PANDORA, how Penka came to Hollywood under the wing of composer Patrick Williams and her work as an orchestrator and composer.

Also, during the show, you will be hearing more music from PANDORA and other projects featuring the music of Penka Kourneva.



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