"As I spent those few magical hours with Bill in his living room recording the sounds of Shakespeare, I felt especially honored to be able to participate in this last project of his." —Meryl Streep, in the liner notes
In the summer of 1998, American banjo master Bill Crofut set out to make a recording which he described as "offering poetry, song and the word-music of Shakespeare to children who I believe can be counted on to respond to the fresh impact of beauty. They need not be talked down to." The end result is an enchanting new release for people of all ages. Dance on a Moonbeam—A Collection of Songs and Poems is Crofut's vision as expressed through traditional folk music, Shakespeare, and his favorite songs and poetry.
Crofut invited the artists, his colleagues and friends, to join him in contributing their talents so that profits could go to help children. He had no idea that in a few months he would discover he had cancer and only five months to live. Crofut began recording some of the songs, determined to complete this last project. Only days before he died, the musicians assembled in his house, and he had the extraordinary will to produce a session from his bed in the living room.
Dance on a Moonbeam features vocalists Julianne Baird, Benjamin Luxon, Dawn Upshaw, and Frederica von Stade. It also includes traditional folk songs and Crofut's settings of the poetry of Robert Louis Stevenson, Randall Jarrell, e e cummings, James Stephens, and others. As poetic bridges between the songs, Meryl Streep recites passages from Shakespeare including "The Merchant of Venice," "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "King Lear," "Henry IV," Romeo and Juliet," and "The Tempest." The CD booklet includes comments by Streep and artwork by Crofut's daughter, Erika.
Born in Cleveland, Bill Crofut was a singer, composer and banjo player who defied categorization. He first surfaced during the folk music boom in the late 1950s. Pete Seeger taught him to play the banjo after Crofut organized a Seeger concert to support the singer's defense fund. (Seeger was then under government investigation for "un-American activities.") His diverse interests are represented by more than 20 recordings, including folk music and jazz, classical music, and comparisons of English and American songs. He also collaborated with poets in writing settings of verse to music as a way to introduce young children to poetry.
Profits from the sale of Dance on a Moonbeam will be donated to children's charities.