In the world of athletic competition, there's always someone younger and faster just around the corner to challenge the current record. It's not much different in music. There always seems to be a younger prodigious instrumentalist every year, someone who can play louder and faster than the last sensation did.

Lately, it looks like the conducting field is the new breeding ground for early manifestations of talent. You've got Gustavo Dudamel taking the helm of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and guest conducting all over the best places before he turns 30. Locally, we've got 17-year-old Ilyich Rivas, who just led the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in a subscription concert, a year or so after a gig with the Atlanta Symphony. Well, big deal.

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Thanks to an NPR post by Tom Huizenga and the assistance of You Tube (how long did it take us to learn about talented kids before YouTube?), I now know about a three-year-old named Jonathan who has a pretty good handle on Beethoven's Fifth. And here I thought that the five-year-old on YouTube leading a recording of "Rite of Spring" was going to be impossible to beat in the kids-conduct-the-darnedest-things contest.

I love BSO music director Marin Alsop's comment to Tom Huizenga about

the Beethoven maestro-ini: "They're getting younger and younger all the time. Pretty soon even potty training will not be required for music director candidates."

I don't know what makes some kids so tuned into music so early. Sure, there's the imitation factor at work, but Jonathan really does seem to have gotten a good deal of the score into his ears, and seems to know what a conductor does besides keep time. And, hey, it takes a remarkable gift to deal with a runny nose and the finale of Beethoven's Fifth at the same time.

So, in case you haven't seen hi, heeeeeeeerrre's Jonathan:

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