"The special thing about invoke is the group's love of bluegrass and how its lively spirit and playfulness are essential to the way they approach every piece of music. They infuse their performances with such a down-home joyfulness that they can be playing Beethoven at the Blanton, and you'll feel like you're on a porch in the Blue Ridge Mountains." - Austin Chronicle, Best of Austin 2019, "Most Foot-Stompin' Classical"
"Austin’s isn’t your average string quartet. Not content to limit themselves to the typical
pair of violins with a viola and cello, they’ve explored the sounds of banjos and mandolins and even their own voices." - KMFA, Austin's Classical Radio Station
"a versatile and musically adventurous, way more than classical string quartet" - Capital Gazette
Described as “...not classical but not, not classical…beautiful, adventurous, American and immediately engaging” (David Srebnik, former SiriusXM Classical Producer), Invoke (Nick Montopoli, violin/banjo/vocals; Zach Matteson, violin/vocals; Karl Mitze, viola/mandolin/vocals; Geoff Manyin, cello/vocals) strives to successfully dodge even the most valiant attempts at genre classification. The multi-instrumental quartet encompasses 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 selected 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, Invoke was named a winner of the Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition in New York, NY, received First Prize at the M-Prize International Chamber Arts competition in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and received 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. Additional performance highlights include Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Green Music Center, a concerto appearance with the Brevard Sinfonia, a residency at the Stanford Pre-Collegiate Institute, and performances on the NextNOW Festival at University of Maryland and Festival Amadeus in Montana. Invoke has also appeared with musicians from various genres, including chamber rock group San Fermin, indie group Never Shout Never, and DC beatboxer/rapper/spoons virtuoso Christylez Bacon.
Invoke’s discography includes their debut album, Souls in the Mud (2015), featuring works by composer Danny Clay as well as original works composed by the group; Furious Creek (2018), featuring original compositions and arrangements; and Fantastic Planet (2021), an original soundtrack composed by the group inspired by the 1973 French animated feature. Fantastic Planet is a companion album to their summer 2019 commission by the Austin Chamber Music Festival. The album features Invoke’s standard instrumentation as well as the addition of the electric cello and the igil, a horsehead fiddle from Tuva, Siberia.
Invoke is strongly committed to championing diverse American voices through 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 the group’s unique artistry. 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 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.
Photo by Nathan Russell