The 2022 Celebrity Judges

The Road to Success starts with an application to audition and a live performance in front of a panel of audition judges. After the panel selects five finalists and two alternates in each division, song selection enters the mix. Each finalist submits three songs for consideration for the Hoosier STAR Song Selection Committee to choose from. After music selections are approved, the singers prepare, the orchestra secures the music and the stage is set for an amazing evening hosted by a Master of Ceremonies along with on-stage commentary from celebrity judges which adds to the excitement of the evening.

Greta Stirling Friedman

“Music expresses what even the most eloquent of words simply cannot at times. Music can fill your heart with joy or break it into 1 million pieces. That is in part why it is such a blessing to have something like Hoosier STAR to experience.” Greta is a native to LaPorte, Slicer, and graduate of Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, and Valparaiso Law School. Her earliest memories are of listening to every Broadway musical and memorizing the lyrics. As a child of two musicians and educators, it was one of her favorite things to do. Greta’s first singing experience was Gretel in The Sound of Music alongside her mother, Jane Westphal, who played Maria. Greta has appeared in numerous musicals and plays in the last 25 years locally. A role as Peter in Peter Pan gave her the unique perspective of singing while flying in the air. “It is much more difficult than it looks, and I gained a whole new appreciation of Mary Martin!” She enjoyed the challenge as well as the opportunity to share the stage with her two children, who were part of the wonderful cast.

For several years Greta has had the privilege of singing with the Praise Team at the First United Methodist Church with some incredibly talented musicians

She has participated in Hoosier Star on several occasions as an Audition judge and describes it as uplifting and joyful. She is thrilled to be joining such talented other judges on the stage this year as a Celebrity judge.

“The level of talent we see in this competition is incredible. Every year I say that it was the best year yet… Until the next year comes around. It just keeps improving with every year. The leadership, vision, and talent of those who put on this competition is totally dedicated to encouraging young singers. You will not find a better experience anywhere I am sure”. Greta is honored to be working with James Neary, and the incredible Cherri, Tim, and board to see that this competition continues even in challenging times. Giving singers the opportunity to share the stage and work with the symphony is a totally unique and memorable experience. Greta believes that we need music perhaps now more than ever!

Alastair Willis

Grammy nominated conductor ALASTAIR WILLIS is currently the Music Director of the South Bend Symphony Orchestra, and Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Symphonia Boca Raton.  In past seasons, Willis has guest conducted orchestras around the world including the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Mexico City Philharmonic, Orquestra Sinfonica de Rio de Janeiro, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchestra Berlin, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, China National Orchestra (Beijing), and Silk Road Ensemble (with Yo-Yo Ma) among others.  His recording of Ravel’s “L’Enfant et les Sortileges” with Nashville Symphony and Opera for Naxos was Grammy nominated for Best Classical Album in 2009.

Last season Willis was re-engaged by the Chicago Symphony, Qatar Philharmonic, Pacific Northwest Ballet, La Porte County Symphony, and Salute to Vienna, and made his debut with the Rockford Symphony.  This season he returns to the Chicago Symphony, Qatar Philharmonic, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Salute to Vienna.

Previous positions include Music Director of the Illinois Symphony, Principal Guest Conductor with the Florida Orchestra’s Coffee Concert series, Associate Conductor of the Seattle Symphony, Assistant Conductor with the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestras, and Music Director of the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra.

Born in Acton, Massachusetts, Willis lived with his family in Moscow for five years before settling in Surrey, England.  He received his bachelor’s degree with honors from England’s Bristol University, an Education degree from Kingston University, and a Masters of Music degree from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music.  Willis currently resides in South Bend, Indiana, with his wife and daughter.

Lou Voelker

Lou Voelker is a partner in the Indiana law firm Eichhorn & Eichhorn, LLP, practicing primarily in Northwest Indiana. He lives in LaPorte with his wife and the youngest of his three children.  Lou started playing guitar and singing in his youth.  He was a member of the Purdue University Varsity Glee Club and has been named to its Hall of Fame. His community involvement has included serving as a 4-H Horse & Pony Leader, and past service as a youth sports coach through the YMCA and other programs.  He is a member of the local musical group Cripple Creek, a vocally oriented band that performs an eclectic variety of music. Cripple Creek most frequently performs in support of community organizations including the LaPorte Symphony Orchestra, the Healthcare Foundation of LaPorte, NewDay Foundation and Arts in the Park.  He is involved with the music ministry of the La Porte First Church of God.