“I will not answer thees,” he says, turning a faint pink. He wags his finger and teases, “Come on, behave! You forget you are a journalist.”
Seven years later, a video of this scene ranks high in a YouTube search for the musician. We never learn what secrets Capucon refused to reveal, but the content is irrelevant. That he refused to reveal something seems odd.
A digital search for Capucon, now 30, offers an array of options for the casual viewer. One can watch him perform Johan Halvorsen’s Passacaglia with his violinist brother Renaud at Royal Albert Hall in London. Or one can gawk at his physique as he plays his 1701 Matteo Goffriller cello in an undershirt in the supposed privacy of a dressing room. Those who prefer comedy to Dvorak can chuckle as he announces his favorite English profanity (in a melodic French accent) or his preferred method of death: “onstage with my cello . . . or in the arms of the woman I love,” says Capucon, who will perform at the Kennedy Center from Nov. 10 to 12.
Highbrow or lowbrow, everyone is pleased.
Because intoday’s open-source, over-sharing, follow-and-friend frenzy, elite classical musicians, like every other sector of performers, are nothing if not familiar.
YouTube celebrates its sixth anniversary this month, and its effects on established classical artists are still largely unquantifiable. Yet, young musicians like Capucon, violinist Charlie Siem and even once-controversial head-turner Lara St. John have seized virtual media not only to showcase their talents, but also to showcase themselves. Once respected for ethereal album covers and arresting performances taped for PBS, classical soloists are venturing into Rebecca Black’s viral video territory. They share the stage with talking animals. They compete with political campaign managers who light up in jest.
For Capucon, it doesn’t matter why the virtual public watches him. Is it because he seems sweet? Because he’s the Vincent Cassel of chamber music?
“I’m almost blushing now, but I don’t know,” he demurs. “I am who I am and what I am, and people feel that. You can’t hide behind anyone onstage. You just have to be yourself.”
To be oneself: the goal of a generation and now, its virtuosos.
That openness may lead a young, audience to his performances at the Kennedy Center where Leonard Slatkin will conduct him playing Saint-Saens’s Cello Concerto No. 1.
Then again, it may not.
Either way, this young crop — ever dedicated to the classical repertoire — has embraced digital media to reveal that they too can be ordinary. They curse. They play Ping-Pong. They’ll perform “Flight of the Bumblebee” on an iPad, as pianist Lang Lang did, garnering 1.5 million hits. And while the glut of virtual content exists to tease and lure in an amateur audience, it doesn’t bother the gray heads paying for prime orchestra seating.