van der Zalm is a musician of multiple talents: he is not only a skilled
guitarist, but is equally accomplished on the fiddle, mandolin,
keyboards, accordion and whistle. Rens' instrumental skills are combined
with an ability to apply his expertise to a wide variety of musical
Born in Rotterdam, Holland, Rens was classically trained in violin
and piano from an early age and later studied guitar at the Rotterdam
Conservatory of Music. His professional career was forged in the folk
clubs of Holland, Belgium and the UK. As a member of the acclaimed Dutch
folk bands Fungus and Wolverei, Rens toured throughout Europe.
With his versatility of musicianship, Rens has played as a guest
artist with many bands, covering a wide range of repertoire from folk,
to jazz to classical.
In 1968 Rens and Andy Irvine crossed paths in eastern Europe, where
Andy was exploring traditional Balkan music. He and Rens became friends
and vowed to get together again some time to play music. "Some
time" proved to be more than twenty years later.
In 1991, their paths crossed again and Andy Irvine invited Rens to
play on his album "Rude Awakening" and the next year on an
album of Bulgarian and Macedonian music called "East Wind,"
produced by Bill Whelan, who later wrote the score to "Riverdance". In
1995 Rens, Andy and Hungarian musician Nikola Parov had a very
successful tour of the States as the "East Wind Trio."
Rens has backed up Andy on European tours several times, while still
pursuing his own endeavors in Holland. His mastery of many instruments
has made him one of the most sought-after session musicians in Holland.
There he serves as the anchorman for well-established popular bands, and
more recently he has become active in live theater.
In March of 2002, Andy drafted his favorite musicians to join him in
his "dream band" for a tour of Australia. Called Mozaik,
this group reunited the East Wind Trio of Andy, Rens and Nikola, and
also included Irish traditional musician Dónal Lunny and American
Old-Time fiddler Bruce Molsky. Truly an international composite,
Mozaik's debut at Australia's National Folk Festival was a huge success.
Tied up as they both are with their respective careers, Rens and
Andy's personal and musical friendship has become so compelling that
Rens regularly reserves time to accompany Andy in the studio and on