Ian Hampton's near lifelong proclivity for music dates back seven decades, when the now 77-year-old first took up cello and piano.
He was six years old at the time.
"Haven't got it licked, yet!" he joked.
Through the years, Hampton stuck to the two instruments.
"That's enough," he said.
Enough to earn Hampton the titles of ambassador of the Canadian Music Centre, and artistic director emeritus of Langley Community Music School (LCMS).
Hampton, who was recently awarded an honourary doctorate from Simon Fraser University, has music in his DNA.
"I come from a family of musicians, it seems," he said eloquently, in his gentle, British accent. "My grandfather was a man about the theatre in London, and my father [Colin] was a cellist with the Griller Quartet, very well known in its time during the Second World War."
Hampton retired from public performance in 2003 after a lengthy career but continues his close association with LCMS, as a teacher.
He continues to instruct in his golden years because, he said, a musician always teaches.
"It partly can be a bread-and-butter thing, but it's also a movable feast," Hampton said. "I would imagine that every string player would teach."
Hampton enjoys passing on what he describes as "a lifetime of experience."
"I may not be successful at doing that, necessarily, but after your career is basically finished, there is still a lot that you can give," he said.
His students range from five to 70 years old, but Hampton says there's a symbiotic element to teaching little ones.
"It's nice to teach to the young," he said. "They give back."
Regardless of age, Hampton said, learning music will make you a more rounded person.
"Music develops in the spheres of the brain," he said. "Even if you spend hours and hours practising and then give it up for engineering, you're going to be a more efficient human being, in several directions, because not only is it developing your neuro skills and your responses, you're also learning the world of music."
Hampton said classical music touches on different periods of social history, particularly when it comes to strings.
His affinity for cello comes from string instruments producing a very "human" sound, in Hampton's opinion. That's part of the reason why he refers to string instruments as "the infantry of the orchestra."
"When you play a piano, you're playing a vertical instrument," he said. "You press a note and you get something back. With a string instrument, it has a horizontal or a vocal aspect to it that you have to sustain."
Hampton will be performing this Sunday, Jan. 13, at LCMS's Rose Gellert Hall, as the Concerts Caf‚ Classico presents Ian and Friends.
Hampton joins fellow Arioso Strings colleagues Max Ngai (violin) Luiza Nelepcu (violin) Frances Dodd, (viola) and special guest artist Gene Ramsbottom (clarinet) to present works by Franz Schubert and Arthur Bliss.
Coffee and commentary are hosted before the concert with the school's artistic director of concerts Elizabeth Bergmann at 3 p.m., followed by the performance at 4 p.m.
Hampton has played in venues large and small, to a wide range of audiences.
"There are certain occasions that come up, where you play at Carnegie Hall or wherever, where your guts are really going to get wrenched," he said. "They're not necessarily always going to be big-time concerts, but there may be other reasons."
He's played at New York's Carnegie Hall and Wigmore Hall in London and admits they are "wracking occasions."
Today, Hampton says his musical career is "over," partly because of arthritis.
"So you begin to lose control, and therefore you have to work that much harder to try and maintain control, and also it means the stakes are that much higher as to whether you can maintain control in tense situations," he said.
But Hampton continues to revel playing concerts such as they one coming up on Sunday. He enjoys playing with musicians who play music because they love to do so.
"It's their life," he said. "They may have other work they do, but they're just as involved as professionals in doing these community orchestras, doing these little chamber things, and you can go all the way around the province, and you'll find musicians coming out of the word work. They can be quite amazing. They'll drive for three hours to go and play in string quartets in Vanderhoof, for instance, or Smithers."
Sunday's quartet that includes Hampton is a combination of professional and dedicated amateur musicians who have come together for the joy and collegiality of making music together.
"In addition to the Schubert Quartet in A Minor Op. 29, the ensemble will interpret the Clarinet Quintet by the British born composer and conductor Sir Arthur Bliss," Bergmann said. "Probably the best known clarinet quintets are by Mozart, Weber and Brahms, however the lesser known quintet by Bliss is a wonderful example of late romantic British writing where he especially pushes the boundaries for the clarinet."
Bergmann also mentioned the composer drew his inspiration from the deep trauma and losses he experienced after the Second World War. Bliss' brother, who was a gifted clarinetist, was killed during the war and the quintet is a memorial to him.
"This homage can be especially heard in the tranquil slow movement," she added.
Tickets are available for $15 adults, $13 seniors and $10 students. Call the box office for tickets at 604-534-2848.