Junior Composers was created at a time in 2002 when the National Federation of Music Clubs (NFMC) reformed twelve midwestern state chapters into two regions. Two leading figures in the the newly-formed North Central Region, Odee Maier and Gloria Lien, saw that there were no summer programs for young composers in the region and so they created the first Junior Composers Institute which took place at Northwestern College in Roseville, Minnesota with 17 young composers from North Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.
Odee and Gloria were both piano teachers and, for years, had encouraged their students to explore their creativity by creating original pieces to play on recitals and to submit for composition competitions sponsored by the NFMC. Both women knew that, although there were dozens of regional summer music camps for performers, there were none dedicated to creativity and composition.
Since its first summer, Junior Composers has re-invented itself every summer. Originally a camp for piano students interested in composition, in 2004 students were asked to bring their other instruments. After moving to Augsburg College in 2006, a "featured opportunity" was added to the program in 2008 by inviting a different professional guest ensemble each year to read through students' compositions.
- 2008 chamber music: string quartet
- 2009 choral music: VocalEssence with director Philip Brunelle
- 2010 chamber music: Live Music Silent Film
- 2011 large ensemble: Minnesota Sinfonia with conductor Bill Eddins
- 2012 chamber music: Artaria String Quartet
By July 2010, the camp had grown too large for the space at Augsburg so a move was made to the University of Minnesota and an additional week was added to the summer program, the Studio, and we welcomed our first composer in-residence, Richard Marriott, who is an accomplished silent film composer. Thirteen composers wrote works in response to the special opportunity to create music for silent film. Forty students from nine states attended the 2010 summer camps. Every single student performed in and received a world premiere during one of two Festival Salons on Saturday, July 24, 2010.