We claim her as one of our own, although she’s been in Hollywood for a long time. Penka Kouneva is her name, and she’s been making her voice heard since she showed up at Duke in the early 1990s to pursue formal studies that would lead to her receiving the first-ever Doctorate in Composition awarded there.

She’s often in the news now, as one of the leading composers of music for games and for films.

And she’s once again making news, this time with her July 10 release of The Woman Astronaut, a fully symphonic composition that pays tribute to women in space and other women who have made comparable advances in science and in art, too, for that matter…, because, as the announcement tells us:

Through the History of Space Exploration, 11% of Astronauts Have Been Women (58 total).
In 2013 NASA Hired 8 New Astronauts; 50% Are Women.
To Date, Fewer Than 10 Women Have Composed Music for Studio Feature Films

Here’s the official blurb: “The Woman Astronaut is an original concept album composed in cinematic orchestral-electronic style. The album has 14 tracks falling into three acts about the life journey of an astronaut: adolescence and homeland; young adultmaturity. The Woman Astronaut was produced with Hollywood Studio Orchestra, top LA soloists, and choir. A Kickstarter campaign that raised $35,000 provided the funds for the orchestral recording. The Woman Astronaut is a personal, autobiographical journey with universal resonance tackling the themes of perseverance, ambition, love, hope, destiny a journey of an ambitious, self-determined woman who has chosen a very unusual profession,”

Here’s a 10-minute behind-the-scenes video the composer’s NC friends and admirers will surely want to see.

And here’s a preview.

The CD is available from Amazon and as a download from iTunes.


More information: Game & film composer Penka Kouneva began her career in film/TV in 2000. Working alongside Steve Jablonsky she scored PRINCE OF PERSIA: FORGOTTEN SANDS and TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN games. Her solo composing credits include the indie features THE THIRD NAI, MIDNIGHT MOVIE, and telefilms ICE SPIDERS, CHUPACABRA, and NUCLEAR HURRICANE.

Recently, Kouneva scored the games H-Hour: World’s Elite, ROLLERS OF THE REALM (PS4), IronKill, Hades, and others. Kouneva was also an orchestrator on the Matrix, Transformers, and Pirates franchises, a lead orchestrator/soundtrack producer on Elysium, Ender’s Game, Need For Speed (films), and on World of Warcraft, Starcraft II, Gears of War 2, 3, Sims 3, Diablo III, Dragon Age II, and Bloodborne (games).

Koneva’s composition awards include: the SUNDANCE Composer Fellowship, two Ovation Awards, The Copland Award, Hollywood Music in Media Award, Square Enix Music Online, Independent Music Award.

She is on the Advisory Board of Game Developers Conference, an Advisor for the Sundance Institute, and is a member of the Alliance for Women Film Composers.

“With this album, I wanted to show how passionate I am about growing my craft, [and] my vision as an artist, and that I can definitely do the job,” explained Kouneva. “I’ve aimed to create a piece with a universal resonance – tackling the themes of perseverance, love, hope, destiny.”