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Bagels and Books (and a Few Scores)
Alex Vadukul | The New York Times | 14 July 2010

Alan Gilbert, 45, the music director since September of the New York Philharmonic, doesn't listen to much classical music on Sundays. Instead, he and his wife, Kajsa William-Olsson, 39, devote the day to their daughters, Noemi, 6, and Lia, 5 months, and their son, Esra, 4. The couple met while Mr. Gilbert was chief conductor of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra; Ms. William-Olsson, who is Swedish, was a cellist there. When they moved to New York, they decided to live on the Upper West Side, where Mr. Gilbert grew up.

BAGEL BREAKFAST We like to have a leisurely breakfast or brunch on Sunday. My kids are 6, 4, and 5 months now. The older ones are very happy to have blueberry bagels from H & H, or we can head over to Zabar's — both of which are very close to our apartment — and pick up really traditional bagels.

TO THE PARK We go to the park as often as possible, either Riverside or Central Park, depending on how far we're willing to range. The kids love it, and Esra, my son, who's 4, has really started to love playing baseball. The kids have bikes, and there's a long stretch in Riverside Park close to home where you can ride without having to stop for over 10 blocks. It's awesome.

BOOK BREAK I love to read. If I can carve out an hour or two I'll just go sit in my room and read. I am a fast reader. I probably read one or two books a week, at least.

SINGALONG Mostly the music we listen to at home is kids' music. They have records that they sing along to, and we have some really nice ones, some in Swedish, some in English. I listen to very little music for myself. I mean, I'm listening to music all the time. It's very rare that I'll turn on the radio or put on a record at home.

VIOLIN PRACTICE We waited until literally a couple of months ago to start my daughter with violin lessons, and I guess in a way we were overcompensating with not wanting to push it, but she definitely came to it on her own. She understands that the idea is to try and play a little bit each day, so either my wife or I — we're both string players — we help her with form and how to hold the bow. We try to do that at some point during the day. She can play a couple of tunes now: "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" and "Lightly Row."

TALKING TWO LANGUAGES We live in New York now, but we still have our house in Stockholm, and we go there whenever we can. My wife speaks Swedish to the kids and I speak English to the kids. They're bilingual. You are definitely hearing two languages in our household all the time.

COOKING TOGETHER Something my wife and I always do, but especially on Sundays, is cooking. We cook virtually every day, and we cook together. My son is really fascinated by being in the kitchen, so we'll often get him to help. My wife makes a really good version of Swedish meatballs, which are not called Swedish meatballs in Sweden, of course; they're just called meatballs.

STUDY THE SCORE In a sense, as a musician, one day is just like any other day. I'm always studying. Often at night, after the kids have gone to bed, I'll just sit down and read through scores. So that happens all the time. That's just part of my life.

BEDTIME READING What I do before I go to sleep is I read, always. Sometimes I fall asleep reading, and other times I actually make a decision to turn off the lights. Sometimes I fall asleep before I make the choice.
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