Bio Leen

Born: 11th of July 1946
Married to Ria, 3 children (Magiel, Willem, Gyz), 4 grandchildren (Bowy, Roxy, Angel, Zoë)

Leen is descendant from an old Hugenot family. Ancester was Jacques de La Rivière, born in Rouaan(Fr) 1655(?).He had to flee out of France in 1680/1681 because of all religious difficulties, as he was protestant. He arrived in Leiden totally poor. The parish relief of the Wallon Protestant church kept him alive. Because of his background country nobility, a partner from the same social class should be found. That partner became Anna Ticquet (from the Van Panhuys generation, dutch country nobility and merchants); on 1-3-1682 they married in the Pieterskerk, Leiden. People around must have thought that this couple DE La Rivière (because of DE means nobility) should have some money. When the first child was born, they registered the child without DE, so they all could live on without such burden of the past. If you read throgh the family tree of the La Rivière’s you find, artisans, handicrafts, teachers, artists, engeneers, etc. It is incredible to read what they did to survive. Some knew good times, others were very poor. The only thing whar is left from the ancient French time is the familysheeld. The whole familytree from 1680 till now is known and maybe we put this entire familytree one day on this web. Research should be done about the times before 1680. Some familymembers changed the name into: Larieviere, van de Rivier, La Rivierre, Larivere, Larieveire…
Leen’s father was J.J.La Rivière, chief-engeneer/company-manager with Philips, his mother A.M.Schoenmijer, both real Rotterdammers.

Leen keeps good memories about his youth. Education was strict. There are a good number very funny anecdotes to tell. Phillips moved after the war staff and factories like playing chest. Pa La Rivière was first in Eindhoven, where they survived the war, thanks to Philips care.That is the reason Leen was born in Eindhoven. Soon after a whole group of managementsstaff was relocated to Hilversum, start of a new factory. They found a house in Bussum. Here Leen grew up and where he finally visited the Gooische HBS, but her failed that college, he was too creative, too occupied with other things as home-work. But 3 years at that school were just enough to get him into the College for Education in Utrecht, where he studied 5 years to become teacher. This study gave him as well all the time to do exhibitions, musicals, shows, artistic happenings, textwriting, theaterproductions, whatever. And here he learned the artistic metier and to organise events. In 1968 he married Ria Zwarts and they  settled in Rotterdam, where in the midst of a housing crises they could get a nice appartment in the new area Ommoord (Rotterdam constructed a new quarter on the bottom of a former lake).

First years of marriage
Teaching, work on your marriage, activities in the church, first pregnancy is already quite a load to carry. Besides that in 1969 the request came from a friend(director of a local choir) to organise the first visit of the American Continentals. Leen did and the experience of that first tour TOTALLY changed Leen’s life. Here was a total new way to deal with music (contemporary christian music), to minister thru music and an incredible youth dynamic. As Leen was teaching mental retarded children, these activities were happening as volunteer in free time. That volunteerwork saw an enormous growth, that was soon impossible to have that as a privat burden, so Stichting (Foundation) Continental Sound was started  end 1970 to handles tours and other possoble projects. The growth of the Continental Singers moved on. Within a few years Leen had 2 fulltime jobs: school and The Continentals. That was too much and in privat life Leen and Ria were heading for a disaster: an almost divorce in 1973. So decision time. Leen felt led to go full-time for The Continentals and other creative possibilities, so he quit school. To make it clear: The Continentals is a concept, there are more groups under the same name, who perform exactly the same. So more groups went on tour at the same time, that ment: arranging coaches, churches, publications, interviews, promo-campaigns, marketing-campaigns, roadmanagers, to process audience responses, because countless numbers of audience came to the concerts: sold out theatre’s, totally packed churches… Continentals were a ‘hit’. The growth went so fast, that Leen could not longer do that work out of his own apartment, he got a small office in another apartment and that grew into a labyrinth of apartments, cellars, garages, attics, etc.
The step  of The Continentals toward their LP’s and songbooks was easily made, so in 1971 a real company Continental Sound Music was created to handle all the commercial interests and activities; this grew later into a complete publishing house. From 1974 and on New Hope came on tour, the first christian rockband. And that group created new breakthroughs and other possibilities. In 1974 Leen begun with the newsletter Sjofar to secure our own newsinformation system. Sjofar comes out every month since 1974.

More about the 70ties
This new phenomena(contemporary christian music/The Continentals) made people and leaders wonder, questions came. So Leen started workshops, started to  inform and stimulate dutch choirs/groups, inform artists, etc. In 1974/75 the first experimental non-USA Continental group (Kom Tezamen/Discipel) was started to help find all the cross-cultural possibilities for Europe. This development in knowledge and experience made it possible to start in 1980 the preparations for the first Christian Artists Seminar: a week full of learning, meeting, inspiration for the professional artists; that seminar still happens every year since 1981 (first at De Bron, since 1994 at the SBI, since 2011 at the KSI).

The 80ties
We saw that our mandat as record-company was fullfilled, that gave room for new developments. The newsletter Sjofar got a real tabloid sister: Gospel Music Magazine. That magazine evoluated along with the evolution of the whole organization into all the arts, so the name became: Gospel Music & Art Magazine, Gospelmagazine Music & Art, Music & Art, and is called now SIGNS, the official magazine of the CNV Artists union. Leen La Rivière have been the chief-editor since the beginning with his own page.
Other room came for the already mentioned Christian Artists Seminar, bringing together professional and new talent from around Europe.Was the core in 1981 MOR-music, within 3 years all styles were present. In 1983 some performing arts were present, soon ALL the performing arts were present. In 1986 the visual arts came along, sothat in 1989 litterally every  visual art form was at CA. In 1994 media arts were added. Since 1994 all the arts are at CA and sometimes you will even see real avant-garde/cutting edge experiments. Leen La Rivière has lead with wisdom and clear direction all developments since the early days, resulting in a wide acceptance in the christian sector for all the arts today. But CA stimulated as well quality, renewal, personal developments, stimulation of young talent. The CA seminar has a strong dynamics, TV-crews from all over Europe came, the CA growth was incredible till the peak of 2000 participants, a staff of 200 persons to make all work, 250 professional teachers/performing artists…. but the quality in the workshops dropped as well immensely, participants became consumers. In 1993 was decided to go to a new CA-model: other centre, only for real professional interested persons… so the next CA had only 125 participants. But that new model really stimulated the professional arts field. Since many years CA has now 250-350 participants. Since 2006 new possibilities for youth are added.
That CA development resulted in 1985 in something totally unexpected! The Seminar had such a strong dynamic, that it resulted in permanent involvement of the participants… permanently they felt being ‘a CA’. In 1986 was reported this feeling to be even much stronger. Unplanned we had became a ‘movement’. To the movement was added direction, especially thanks to the Visionairy documents ‘NL and Europe in the ‘90ties’, and that all led to the creation of real associations with members. In 1989 was a not planned but not by accident meeting with the general-secretary Peter Cammaert of the CNV, that paved the way to joining CNV (Christian National Trade Unions of the Netherlands), Christian Artists became the official CNV Artists Union.
Another interesting CA-development. Each seminar has a theme/subject. In the ‘80ties that was merely biblical orientated, personal faith. Deep ethical questions were answered. Since 1991 the topics became related with the problems of the real world, what is the position of a CA in society. This new dimension was made possible by the financial and knowledge support of EZA/EU. Since 1994 CA has changed as well in a common cooperation project of many CA groups/associations around Europe, many groups came into being thanks to the CA-Seminar.
CA contributed in an enormous way in East-West contacts. Since 1975 Leen has been travelling ambassador in Eastern Europe to make contacts, to talk to government-agencies. As result even The Continentals could do an official tour in the DDR and in Tsjecho-Slowakija (!) and since 1982 CA had delegates from almost every communistic nation…

The 90ties
The character of these years is consolidation, professionalization, deeping, qualitygrowth, slow expansion. This became possible thanks to the possibility to buy an old school and yard of over 2000 m2. That was changed into the Continental Art Centre, finally all parts of the organization together in one building, what a blessing.
These years were needed to get wide acceptance as CNV artists union and to work on membership services, membershipfacilities, helpdesk,tax-services, insrurancepossibilities, legal help, etc.
The Continental-unit saw an enormous new growth based on a plan to improve the numebr of European Continental groups, offices were opened in Italy, Hungary, Romenia, Slowakija. The Young Continentals were launched in 1992, Continental Encores in 1996 and Continental Kids in 1999: Per year there are now appr.30 groups on the road (each group has 30 selected and trained members) doing appr.500 concerts a year, reaching 125.000 audience and having an incredible impact.

Years 2000
First consolidation, next expansion of the building with a new wing (2003) and a complete theater/arts/expositionhall (2005) the opening was done by prime-minister J.P.Balkenende.

In short

  • 1969 Founder Continental Sound (foundation for contemporary christian youth music, concerts, projects)
  • 1974 founder of Publishing Company BV Continental Sound Music
  • 1980 co-founder Magazine Music & Art
  • 1981 initiative annual Christian Artists Seminars/symposia
  • 1986 founder European Continentals (now 30 groups)
  • 1987 founder christian artists associations + federation
  • 1989 Affiliation to CNV trade unions
  • 1989 acquisition Continental Art Centre
  • 1989 initiator CCLI-Netherlands (copyrightsystem)
  • 1990 Affilitaion WCL Brussels
  • 1993 Affiliation Eza(Königswinter) membercentre
  • 1996 Affiliation Federation of Kunstenaarsverenigingen, NL
  • 1999 affiliation CCOOP (union-umbrella for governemental negotiations)
  • 1999 founder CJR(Cultural Youth Council)
  • 2000 initiator christian arts collection
  • 2000 initiator European Academy for Culture & the Arts weblink
  • 2006 founder School of Rock weblink:


  • member board CNV trade unions
  • chairman CNV Kunstenbond
  • chairman International Federation of Christian Artists Associations/groups etc weblink:
  • chairman Continental Art Centre weblink:
  • boardmember Federation van Kunstenaarsverenigingen
  • chairman Music Council of the Netherlands/Toonkunstenaarsregister
  • boardmember Rechtshulp(legal help) CNV
  • boardmember Christian Social Network Rotterdam weblink:
  • boardmember CCOOP
  • chairman Continental Sound
  • chairman Continental Ministries Europe
  • boardmember Continental Ministries USA
  • chairman Curatorium European Academy
  • chairman Christian Artists Europe Seminar
  • general secretary christian arts collection
  • boardmember Cultural Alexander


  • Author of 22 books (in dutch) about the arts, faith, youth, culture, etc
  • editor of the series Art 2000 (12 volumes about cultural policies, etc)
  • editor Yearbook EXPRESSIE (32 editions)
  • editor Christian Artists Directory (14 editions)
  • Author of articles and studies
  • Initiator of the book: the Art of Living (22  specialised studies)
  • Creator of the series: Megasories-Millenniumstories-Megasongs
  • Creator programs European Continentals
  • produced appr.100 different LP’s and CD’s

Special recognition
16 oct.1999: because of the incredible contributions to culture, the arts, youthwork the Beatrix Queen of the Netherlands made Leen Knight  in the Order of Oranje-Nassau.

Communicative skills

  • speech (specialised cases, public addresses, etc)
  • sermon(churchservices)
  • lecture (college’s, universities, unions, conferences)
  • biblestudies
  • debates
  • improvisation
  • workshops
  • case-studies
  • books
  • counseling
  • presentations
  • consultations (culturepolitics, social artists policies, arts/labor practises, etc)


  • to boardmembers, governors, directors, instructors, trainers, teachers
  • to projects, conferences, etc
  • to small scale activities till festivals with over 15.000 public
  • content & motivation
  • content annual CA Seminar (since 1981)

International experience/intercultural

  • since 1974 active with (underground) activities in Eastern Europe
  • since 1992 offices in Hungary, Italy, Slowakija, Romenia
  • since 1986 a network of coordinators around Europe
  • visits most European nations 1x per year, visits USA 1x per year; networks via CA, EZA, CNV
  • advisor a number of organizations around Europe for cultural, social policies


  • speaks/writes english and german
  • reads french

Special projects

  • member commission CDA-WI european culture policies (1993-1996)
  • coordinator ‘Opdat de dromen niet slapen’, inspirational book for CNV, 1999
  • Initiator youth research Erasmus university 1998


  • 1969-1974 teacher mental retarded children, Schreuderschool
  • 1974-1978 annual Festivals, Ahoy, Rotterdam
  • 1976-1982 co-pastor evangelical church
  • 1985 coordination Gospel Roch Night
  • 1986-1987 coordination Go-Festival, Randers, Denmark
  • 1986-1993 coordination annual Adrian Snell musicals
  • 1986-1986 coordination 7 Celebrations
  • 1987 creative concepts Mission/Tema-congres
  • 1991 creative concepts Conference: 100 years Christian Social Thinking
  • 1986-1999 bible-study coordinator Continental Ministries
  • 1998 creative concepts Kerkendag, Kampen
  • 1989-2001 general-secretary CCLI-Nl
  • 1999-2000 coordinator Cultural Youth Council

Special consultations

  • 1999 coordianation of a series of cultural studies together with and for Prof. Jan Peter Balkenende(now prime minister). On request of the CNV-trade union for artists, Rotterdam, the Netherlands
  • May 2001 European cultural policies and social consequences. On request of the ministry of Social Affairs, Bukarest, Romania
  • 2002 series of studies Multiculturality and the need for integration, based on European values; the European basic rights. Preparation Int.Seminar and for Prof. J.P.Balkenende, now prime minister
  • May 2002 European Cultural policies and practical consequencies for artists on request of LDF and ministry of culture/cultural centres; Vilnius, Lituhania
  • Sept.2003 civil society and the role of artists. On request of ACG, London, UK
  • January 2004 the importance of creativity for cultural identies in an integrating Europe. On request of the Atlantic Club, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sofia, Bulgaria
  • May 2004 New possibilities for (post)academic training in the arts and culture, the need for creative principles. On request of the EA, Lisboa, Portugal
  • April 2004 the values of creativity for private and public life, Arts Seminar, Perugia, Italy
  • October 2004 the values of creativity, the values of the EU (constitution), the public domain, Arts Seminar, Conservatorium, Bratislawa, Slovakia
  • October 2004 the values of creativity for private and public life, Arts Seminar, Thessaloniki, Greece
  • November 2004 the values of traditional music education, Entramus (EU project), Asturias, Spain
  • December 2004  the values of creativity for the workforce; University of Sofia, Hiva (Leuven), Sofia, Bulgaria
  • January 2005 creativity, the workplace, and the public domain; trade union of Malta
  • February 2005 pluriformity, family values, religious co-existence; Ifes, Cluj, Romania
  • May 2005 post-modernity and the challenge for creativity and values; Kr.Academy, Riga, Latvia

Formal training

  • 3 jarige HBS (college)
  • 1966 eerste deel diploma Christelijk onderwijs(graduation)
  • 1968 tweede deel diploma Christelijk onderwijs (graduation)
  • 1967 akte van bekwaamheid als onderwijzer (graduation)
  • 1968 akte van bekwaamheid als volledig bevoegd onderwijzer (graduation)
  • 1974, 1976, 1978, 1980 seminars in de USA
  • 1988 Crossroad DTS, YWAM-Hawaii
  • 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002 specialisations EZA, CA & CNV-Seminars.
  • NOS-course presentation & interview; mediatraining by Jaap Brand

Protestant church of the Netherlands, Delfshaven.