Leave your ego at the door: an interview with iNtrmzzo


Touring, all-male a cappella group seeks new singer. High-ish voice. Must have good personality and sense of humor. ABSOLUTELY NO BIG EGOS.

Bald singers preferred.

Since its formation in 1984 (as Intermezzo), Dutch group iNtrmzzo has had many iterations and many different members. The original members were students and sang primarily classical repertoire.  

But when you see the current version of iNtrmzzo on stage, you’ll notice a couple of things. One is that they always seem to be having such a good time. Another is that their repertoire covers such a wide range of music, ranging from classical and Gregorian chant to reggae and world music, from pop songs with a twist to melodies created by hitting each other on the head with boomwhackers.


But as soon as they step onto the stage, the first thing you’ll notice is that they’re all bald.

When I asked if that was deliberate, I was mostly kidding. But, they told me, it happened by accident, but it’s become a part of their image. People remember the four bald guys.

And for a group that’s been around so long, they’ve had surprisingly little turnover. Their newest member, Robbert, joined in May 2016, but before that, the members hadn’t changed for 10 years. Merijn, the musical director, who sings bass and baritone and writes some arrangements, has been with the group for around 25 years. Clemens, also a bass/baritone and arranger, has been singing with iNtrmzzo for 11 years, and Tjidde, a baritone/tenor, has sung with them for 10 years.

So why have singers left the group over the years? Sometimes a singer burns out from the performance or touring schedule. But nothing will get you asked to leave iNtrmzzo quicker than a big ego. They’ve had a few members before with diva attitudes, of course. One former member, who wasn’t with the group for too long, started to think of himself as more important than the other members of the group. But as Merijn says shortly, “That didn’t work.”

 “Over the years,” says Merijn, “I’ve been able to shed my ego. I’m not that important. If I left, iNtrmzzo would still be there. It doesn’t depend on me, or on any specific person. We all contribute, and it could be other people as well.”

Clemens adds, “That attitude makes us difficult to replace. We go on stage as iNtrmzzo, not as four individuals. For me, the most fun part is being part of a team. If you’re a diva, it’s a problem.”

Naturally, after so many years, the group has had ups and downs. But although they just signed with a new agent and plan to do more touring and shows in the near future, singing in an a cappella band isn’t just about seeking fame and fortune for the guys of iNtrmzzo. They all have families and day jobs, and after many years on the road and on stage together, they’ve learned that the most important thing is just to have fun. And they do have a lot of fun, on the road, in rehearsal, and especially on stage, whether they’re performing in churches in Venice or the Dutch TV competition The Sing-Off.

So when one singer recently decided to leave the group, they all thought Robbert would be a good fit. He has sung with other a cappella groups and also sings musical theater. He’s fun and funny and a team player. And, of course, he’s bald.

Maybe those things are connected somehow. 

Onstage and off, the long-term members of the group share a chemistry that can create magic. After so many years of singing together, they’ve worked through their personality differences and potential disagreements, and they’ve learned to depend on each other and trust each other onstage. They joke around a lot, and it’s clear that, even though they’re a professional group, they’re enjoying themselves too much to really consider it a job.

So if another spot ever opens up, I’ll be shaving my head. 






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