Francophiles can add classical musicians to their list of superior French things. Cellist Gautier Capucon, 30, will perform with the National Symphony Orchestra Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. at Kennedy Center. Considered a young superstar of classical music, he chatted about travel, children and his strapping good looks — which we’re pretty sure made him blush a bit.
You started playing cello at age 5. Why did you pick it up?
I played the violin for one month, which I don’t remember, but apparently I hated it. My sister already played piano and my brother played violin, and they thought, “Let’s give him a cello,” so that’s how it started. But I loved it, even at 5. I was already feeling this instrument as almost a part of my body.
What is your favorite piece to perform?
It’s hard to choose. I really love the Saint Saens concerto that I’m going to play with the National Symphony Orchestra. It’s romantic, and it has a whole range of feeling. But there are so many great pieces to play. I like to say that one life is not enough for a musician.
You perform all over the world. Do you get tired from the travel?
Yes, I do still get tired from the jet lag, so it’s really important to keep my energy up. Even if I only have an hour to sleep or rest, just saving the energy for a concert is important to my performance. It affects my practicing, too. I practiced eight hours a day for 10 years, but with travel and my family now, there’s not as much time for it.
You’ve reached heartthrob status in the classical world. Does that affect your performances?
Well, thank you for that [laughs]. But it really doesn’t change anything. I’m happy some people think I’m attractive, you know. But I’m a musician, so I just try to ignore it and focus on music. I’m just happy to share the music onstage.
And have you been to D.C. before? Do you like Washington?
Yes, I played the first time with the National Symphony in 2007, but I didn’t get much time to explore. I saw Georgetown and the monuments. The last time I was in Washington, I played in the Library of Congress, so I like visiting, and I’m happy to be back and see more.
Do you have a favorite concert hall to perform in?
There’s so many incredible halls all over the world, but the Musikverein in Vienna [Austria] is probably the most incredible hall I’ve ever seen. The atmosphere is so special.
You have a 2-year-old daughter. At what age will she start playing cello?
Well, actually, you will laugh, but she’s already taking lessons. She has a small cello and small violin, so I don’t know what she will choose, but she is already familiar with instruments.
You’re starting her young! At least, she’ll have a good teacher.
No, not me! I won’t be teaching her.