“…versatile and musically adventurous, way more than classical…” – Capital Gazette
“If the goal was to make classical music relevant, it couldn’t have proven the point any more clearly.” – Columbia Free Times
Nick Montopoli, violin, banjo, vocals
Zach Matteson, violin, vocals
Karl Mitze, viola, mandolin, vocals
Geoff Manyin, cello, vocals
Described as “…not classical but not, not classical – Invoke is beautiful, adventurous, American and immediately engaging” (David Srebnik, SiriusXM Classical Producer), Invoke strives to successfully dodge even the most valiant attempts at genre classification. The multi-instrumental quartet’s other not-nots encompass traditions from across America, including bluegrass, Appalachian fiddle tunes, jazz, and minimalism. Fueled by their passion for storytelling, Invoke weaves all of these styles together to form a unique contemporary repertoire, featuring original works composed by and for the group.
Invoke was chosen to be the Young Professional String Quartet in Residence at the University of Texas at Austin from 2016-2018. The group also participated in the Emerging String Quartet Program at Stanford, and was selected as an Artist in Residence at Strathmore, the Emerging Young Artist Quartet at Interlochen, and the Fellowship String Quartet at Wintergreen Performing Arts. In 2018, the group was named a winner of the Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition in New York, New York, and won First Prize in the Open Category of the international chamber-arts competition M-Prize, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, as well as First Prize in the Coltman Competition in Austin, Texas.
Invoke has shared the stage with some of the most acclaimed chamber groups in the country, including the Westerlies, Miró and Ensō Quartets, and the U.S. Army Field Band. Other professional highlights include performing in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in New York as part of the YPCA program at the APAP conference, a concerto appearance with the Brevard Sinfonia, a weeklong residency at the Stanford Pre-Collegiate Institute, and concerts as part of the NextNOW Festival at University of Maryland and Festival Amadeus in Montana. Additionally, Invoke has appeared with musicians from genres at complete opposite ends of the spectrum – from chamber rock powerhouse San Fermin, to indie sensation Never Shout Never, to DC beatboxer/rapper/spoons virtuoso Christylez Bacon.
Their 2015 debut release Souls in the Mud begins with original works that conjure images of America, including the fast-paced opening track “Travesty” and “The Trace” (inspired by bourbon whiskey). The third and title track, “Souls in the Mud,” is an American transformation of a 16th century motet featuring banjo, mandolin and a bluegrass-influenced boot-stompin’ finale. To round out the EP, Invoke accompanies a historic recording of a haunting traditional English ballad, and finishes with two compositions by prolific American composer Danny Clay.
Invoke’s second EP Furious Creek, released in Fall 2018, is their first record to include vocals. The title track explores the relationship between humanity and nature with an evocative chant bookending energetic instrumental interludes. A fast-paced tune, “Dogs,” spotlights the banjo with a finger-picking, bluegrass-inspired undertow, and Karl’s elegiac setting of the Walt Whitman, “O Captain! My Captain!” features Nick’s recitation. The EP wouldn’t be complete without a fan favorite closing number, Invoke’s arrangement of the Stephen Foster classic, “Hard Times.”
In Summer 2019, the Austin Chamber Music Festival commissioned Invoke to compose their own original score to the 1973 French animated feature Fantastic Planet, performed live with a small orchestra of Young Artists from the Festival’s Workshop. Fall 2021 saw the release of Fantastic Planet, Invoke’s companion album to the project. Their most intrepid record yet, this set of tracks features improvisation and adventurous instrumentation (i.e. Geoff on the electric cello and Nick on the Igil, a horsehead fiddle from Tuva, Siberia) evoking moody electric soundscapes of the film’s futuristic setting.
Besides performing their original music, Invoke believes in championing diverse American voices by commissioning and highlighting new music. Invoke’s ongoing commissioning project, entitled American Postcards, asks composers to pick a time and place in American history and tell its story through Invoke’s particular skill set. They have commissioned eight new works since 2017, including the latest addition to the initiative, The Lessons of History, by Jonathan Bingham, which premiered in Summer 2021.
In addition to the American Postcards, Invoke has performed and recorded numerous world premieres, including works by Joseph C. Phillips Jr., Armando Bayolo, and Geoff Sheil. The group’s recording credits appear on bassist/composer Ethan Foote’s solo album Fields Burning, singer/songwriter Marian McLaughlin’s Spirit House, jazz/soul singer Rochelle Rice’s EP Wonder, and many more.
Invoke endorses the Buffalo Trace line of Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Soda Shaq cream sodas, and Kirkland brand everything.
Watch Invoke’s presentation of their Fantastic Planet album as part of ACMC’s Chamber Connect series, available now on our YouTube channel!