Penka Kouneva (Ph.D., Composition, 1997) inducted into Duke Graduate School's Few-Glasson Alumni Society

Wednesday, August 30, 2017
The Few-Glasson Alumni Society recognizes graduates who have distinguished themselves through their career accomplishments, the potential of their current endeavors, or their support for graduate students and graduate education at Duke.

Penka is generously supporting the graduate composition program at Duke through a recurring commission award that allows current students to compose works to be rehearsed and recorded by the North Carolina Symphony. Scott Lee, one of two graduate students to receive a commission in 2016, won the ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Award and Symphony In C's 2016-17 Young Composers' Competition for "Vicious Circles," commissioned through this project.

Penka's gift also has funded new compositions by music faculty Stephen Jaffe and Scott Lindroth, with whom she studied with during her time at Duke. On September 16, Jaffe's new work, "Migrations," will premiere in Baldwin Auditorium. Jaffe will conduct the performance, which will feature French violin soloist Gabriel Richard and a faculty-student chamber orchestra.

Film & game composer of “exquisite talent” (Prince of Persia: Forgotten Sands game co-composed with Steve Jablonsky), Penka Kouneva has worked for 15 years in Los Angeles on titles grossing $15 billion world-wide. Her own music is a blend of her Eastern-European upbringing, classical training, modern film & game music, and influences ranging from rock, electronica, Medieval chant to non-Western music. She has made Hollywood history (first woman Lead Orchestrator on films with budget over $100M - Ender’s Game and Elysium). 

Penka has been honored with the Aaron Copland Award, SUNDANCE Composer Fellowship; Hollywood Music In Media Awards, Square Enix Music Online nomination, Independent Music Award; two Ovation Awards, The Visionary Award from Women’s International Film & TV Showcase, GRAND PRIX at the Tokyo Young Composers Competition, Meet the Composer Award, and numerous Artist Fellowships.

Read more about Penka Kouneva and the Few-Glasson Alumni Society.

Penka Kouneva recently composed music for NASA's "Heroes and Legends" exhibit. Listen to excerpts.