Cellist Claudio Jaffe', who performs Monday night at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater, has always been around music. Even before he was born, he was on tour with his parents, pianist Daisy de Luca and violinist Alberto Jaffe', in the United States.

"I've been lucky," says the Brazilian musician. "Ever since I can remember there was always plenty of music in our house -- between people performing and practicing. There was an easy attitude toward music that kept it from getting too serious. Once it gets too serious, the fun is taken out of it."

After his stint as womb-bound prote'ge', and a brief encounter with the piano, Jaffe' discovered the cello and began playing when he was 8.

"People have a lot of prejudices against classical music. They think that if you don't have a high IQ, you can't enjoy it. I try to eliminate that. It's just music. It doesn't take much more than listening to it when you are young -- getting the language in the ear.

"My main preoccupation is communication and enthusiasm. Classical music ... can still say a lot to our modern ears. I think it's amazing that minds that lived a hundred years ago could create this -- that that music can still say something to our computer-aged society."

Jaffe' performs a program of works by Beethoven, Villa-Lobos, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff at 8 p.m. with pianist Thomas Mastroianni in the Terrace Theater. Preceding the concert will be a brief talk, by Dr. Jose' Neistein, director of the Brazilian-American Cultural Institute, at 7:15 p.m. that is free to concertgoers. The concert is part of the Kennedy Center's International Chamber Music and Recital Series.

Tickets, $12, are available at the Kennedy Center box office, or through Instant-Charge at 857-0900.