Leon Ko

Leon Ko Sai-tseung (Chinese: 高世章; pinyin: Gāo Shìzhāng) is a composer for musical theatre and films. He won a Richard Rodgers Development Award, a Golden Horse Award and numerous musical awards. His mother, Lucilla You Min (尤敏), was a famous actress in post-war Hong Kong Mandarin cinema and won "Best Actress" at the 1st Annual Golden Horse Awards and two consecutive Asian Film Festivals. His grandfather, Bak Yuk Tong (白玉堂), was a famous Cantonese opera artist, known as one of the Four Super Stars (四大天王).

Personal life

Ko received a master’s in Musical Theatre Writing at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. His musical Heading East, with book and lyrics by Robert Lee, won the 2001 Richard Rodgers Development Award[1][2] and was restaged in New York in 2010 in the form of a concert presentation.[3] His works have been performed at Carnegie Hall, as well as on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), where he wrote songs for the children series The Puzzle Place.


Ko won Best Score for each of his four Cantonese musicals The Good Person of Szechwan (四川好人), The Legend of the White Snake (白蛇新傳), Field of Dreams (頂頭鎚) and The Passage Beyond (一屋寶貝) in the 2003, 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2012 Hong Kong Drama Awards. For the movie Perhaps Love (如果·愛), he received a Golden Horse Award for Best Original Film Song, a CASH Golden Sail Music Award for Best Alternative Composition as well as a Hong Kong Film Award, an Asia-Pacific Film Festival Award and a Golden Bauhinia Award for Best Film Score. In 2013, he received a Hong Kong Film Award for Best Original Film Song for the movie The Last Tycoon (大上海). He was nominated for a Golden Horse Award and a Hong Kong Film Award in 2008 for the movie The Warlords (投名狀).

He was the musical director of Hong Kong pop legend Jacky Cheung’s 2004 musical revival world tour of Snow.Wolf.Lake (雪狼湖). He worked with Jacky again on The Year of Jacky Cheung World Tour 07, penning a 30-minute musical for the concert. In 2009, he wrote an opening number and a mini-musical finale for Liza Wang's musical Liza the Diva (真係阿姐─汪明荃).

He also took part in the revitalisation of Cantonese opera. In 2006, he wrote a new opening song and incidental music for Princess Changping (帝女花) presented by Yam Kim Fai & Pak Suet Sin Charitable Foundation (任白慈善基金) and performed by Chor Fung Ming Troupe (雛鳳鳴劇團). In 2012, he wrote an opening number for Dream of the Red Chamber (紅樓夢) performed by Connie Chan and Jian Wen Duan. In 2014, he wrote incidental music for Reincarnation of the Red Plum Blossoms (再世紅梅記) presented by Yam Kim Fai & Pak Suet Sin Charitable Foundation (任白慈善基金).

Other works include the scores to:

In 2011, his first London musical Takeaway (also the first major British Chinese musical) premiered at Theatre Royal Stratford East.[5]

Ko has also performed in public himself. In 2009, he orchestrated and performed a medley of five songs[6] from some of his own musicals/plays at the 2009 Hong Kong Drama Awards in celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Hong Kong Federation of Drama Societies. Later that year, he orchestrated and performed a medley of two songs[7] (one of which was tailor-made for the poem Looking up at the Starry Sky (仰望星空) written by the PRC Premier Wen Jiabao) at the Cultural Show in Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Founding of the People's Republic of China (香港同胞慶祝中華人民共和國成立六十週年文藝晚會) together with Jacky Cheung, Yao Jue and Yang Peiyi. Since 2010, he has co-hosted The Shaw Prize Award Presentation Ceremony with Dodo Cheng.[8]

Aside from music, Ko held an antique perfume bottle exhibition entitled Time in a Bottle (尋香記) at IFC mall in 2012. To give the exhibition a theatrical context, he divided it into 13 "scenes" using his collection of perfume bottles to tell the story of a search for true love.[9]

Ko is currently a council member of the Hong Kong Arts Development Council[10] and The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.


  1. The Cambridge Companion to the Musical (Cambridge Companions to Music) (Cambridge University Press, 2008), p290
  2. http://www.artsandletters.org/awards2_popup.php?abbrev= American Academy of Arts and Letters
  3. Playbill.com - News, Andrew Gans, 4 May 2010, accessed 27 Aug 2013
  4. Playbill.com - News, Andrew Gans, 17 Oct 2008, accessed 27 Aug 2013
  5. Theatre Royal Stratford East presents: Takeaway
  6. leonko.net - news
  7. leonko.net - news
  8. The Shaw Prize, 2010 brochure, TVB.com
  9. Time in a Bottle, SCMP 'The Planner', 30 Mar 2012
  10. HKADC Council Members

External links

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