A small planning committee from the Friends of the SPCO began drawing up initial plans for the competition in 2010. They formed a partnership with the SPCO staff and musicians and established an Advisory Board of prominent music supporters and experts in instrumental music. Members of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra judged the DVD round and the Final round.Three outstanding groups, two string quartets and one piano quartet, were chosen to play in the Finals/Winners Recital on February 26, 2012, a well-attended event which was enthusiastically received by its audience.
In spring 2012 the competition formed partnerships with MNSOTA (Minnesota String & Orchestra Teachers Association) and MacPhail Center for Music, resulting in the following changes to the competition: The competition would have three levels: Level A for experienced chamber music players; Level B (Apprentice level) for less experienced chamber music players; and Level C for ensembles that submit their video for comments only. There would be three rounds: a video round, a live Semifinal round, and a Final round/winners recital.