Composer Penka Kouneva worked in Hollywood for 13 years before she had time to write music for herself.
Originally from Bulgaria, Penka traveled to the U.S. with $150, a computer and a Duke University Graduate Fellowship. Now, she's worked on games with Steve Jablonsky like Prince of Persia: Forgotten Sands and Gears of War 3, and films like the Transformers trilogy and the third Pirates of the Carribbean.
She took two months in 2012 to write and record A Warrior's Odyssey. Inspired by the construction of Modest Mussorgsky's epic Pictures at an Exhibition, Penka alternates battle and combat music with intimate chamber-esque tableaux.
A Warrior's Odyssey presents itself in three sections, with an overarching theme of resilience and hope.
In our conversation on the new episode of Top Score, Penka talks about infusing Bulgarian folk melodies and sounds into A Warrior's Odyssey. She said as a young student, field trips often included stopping at war memorials to lay flowers, an act beautifully depicted in the Epilogue titled Flowers at a Monument.
Penka not only demonstrates her command of orchestral scoring and writing, but she also shows off her skills with electronic music.
A Warrior's Odyssey is a journey worth taking. Hear Penka Kouneva and selections from A Warrior's Odyssey on the new episode of Top Score from Classical MPR, also available on iTunes.