It certainly was not easy for the first steering group to find the financial means to buy instruments and other necessities, but with the perseverance that is so typical of the inhabitants of the Campine region, Tielen’s band steadily grew. The proceeds from the theatrical society, a subdivision of the association, proved an important source of income in the first decades of the band’s existence. A typical exuberance on as well as next to the stage soon made the band a welcome guest at village events, and regional festivals were always well attended. Moreover the Kempenzonen could take pride in very loyal supporters who accompanied the band in large numbers.
The more recent history is marked by several concert trips abroad (to Spain, Finland, the former German Democratic Republic, Holland, England, present day Germany), while the band also increasingly took part in contests. Diversion was offered to Tielen’s banding community in the form of traditional members’ feasts, the (in)famous sangria receptions and marching activities in Tielen and the surrounding region. Like any other town band, the Kempenzonen did not escape the ups and downs caused by members coming and going, which was a fact that 16 successive musical directors most certainly had to take into account.
While in the early years one of the more talented bandsmen or a local school teacher with some musical knowledge would be called upon to conduct, from the mid 70’s the band resolutely went for a competent and skilled musical director. A strongly waning interest in banding in the 60’s, caused by the emergence of new recreational opportunities, was rather successfully countered by founding a drum corps. When also this new phenomenon inevitably started losing its appeal, local man Eddy Avonds was welcomed as the band’s new musical director.
For 20 glorious years (1976-1995), Eddy was to be the band’s dynamic locomotive, the innovative architect turning an average village band into a musical ensemble of enviable reputation. His analytical mind soon saw through the rutted musical structures of the band he had inherited, and he firmly resolved to upgrade its potential in quality as well as quantity. A training band was duly started up and gradually a decent set of instruments was acquired. It goes without saying that the new conductor could rely on the unconditioned support of the band’s steering committee, and from 1980 also of a newly founded committee of youngsters. In Eddy’s wake, Rudy Van der Veken (1981-1994) steadily expanded and improved the percussion section, even founding a separate percussion ensemble. Annual recruitment campaigns, musical summer camps, a progressive youth policy and the influence of contest successes and performances on national radio all contributed to attract more and more of Tielen’s youngsters to the Kempenzonen.
Erwin Pallemans and Jan Van Hove (as musical directors for the brass band) and Jan Moons (for the percussion ensemble) managed to perpetuate the musical boom that started with Eddy and Rudy. As such, our late chairman Joris Theeuws had every reason to be proud of the excellent course of events for Tielen’s banding community and its present 3 ensembles: Brass Band Kempenzonen (our senior band directed by Raf Van Looveren), Youth Brass Band Kempenzonen (our junior band conducted by Jeroen Corneillie) and our DrumTeam (led by Marc Nuyts).
At present all the necessary ingredients are in place to allow our band to confidently face new challenges: dedicated members, excellent training and coaching, up-to-date management and a very agreeable group of enthusiastic supporters. On the occasion of our band’s 120 th anniversary, Marc Nuyts described its history in a book titled Brass Band Kempenzonen … Tielen’s musical heart. In 250 pages containing 150 photos all the appropriate themes are dealt with, such as origins, policies, musical aspects, the theatrical society, youth ensembles, honorary and working members, flags and uniforms, entertainment, socio-cultural aspects and petty facts.