“Music is life!” declared Carl Nielsen, and he wanted his music to express “what make the birds cry, the animals roar, bleat, run and fight, and humans moan, groan exult and shout”. So when his Fifth Symphony finds its path blocked by a hostile drummer, what follows is nothing less than a fight for the survival of life itself – music as edge-of-the seat theatre, with a whole, massive orchestra playing for the highest possible stakes. The CBSO’s associate conductor Michael Seal never does anything by halves, and this should knock you backwards. First, though, the great Christopher Maltman sets the mood with a selection of Mahler’s musical folktales – each one a brilliantly coloured little world of fantasy, romance, and pitch-black humour. And before that, Sibelius takes a sea voyage to England: his Third Symphony evokes both Channel fogs and bracing Nordic freshness. Dedicated to the CBSO’s founder Granville Bantock, the CBSO once played it under Sibelius himself. You might say it’s a Birmingham speciality!

CBSO+ 6.15pm: The Behn String Quartet, a group of rising stars from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, performs Franck's Piano Quintet with pianist Emanuil Ivanov.