Three-time Olivier Award winner Maria Friedman talks to Edward Seckerson about her first solo album for 12 years – The Great British Songbook.

She talks about digging deep to unearth a repertoire she thought she knew but discovered she really didn’t. She talks about the songs she chose and why – really important for this most motivational of artists – and the songs (and composers) she had to leave out. She extols the virtues of Gilbert O’Sullivan and The Beatles and tells us what she thinks “Norwegian Wood” is all about. An arsonist?

She sings Noel Coward’s praises and shares some thoughts as to why “If Love Were All” is such a great song. She also talks about “community spirit” and why that’s important to her. Maria has pretty much turned her back on the “8 shows a week” life of musical theatre but we could be seeing a lot more of her. And she will be reprising her Mrs. Lovett in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd with Bryn Terfel…

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Writer and broadcaster Edward Seckerson is chief classical music and opera critic for the Independent. He wrote and presented the long-running BBC Radio 3 series Stage & Screen, in which he interviewed many of the most prominent writers and stars of musical theatre. He appears regularly on BBC Radio 3 and 4. On television, he has commentated a number of times at the Cardiff Singer of the World competition. He has published books on Mahler and the conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, and has been on Gramophone Magazine’s review panel for many years. Seckerson presented the 2007 series of the Radio 4 music quiz Counterpoint. He has interviewed everyone from Leonard Bernstein to Liza Minelli; from Paul McCartney to Pavarotti: from Julie Andrews to Jessye Norman. For more info visit