Advent-tide is the time for an almost pitched battle between the ongoing concert season and the attractions of the Christmas period.

Many organisations take the dilemma in their stride, such as the Birmingham Bach Choir, which on Saturday brings Christmas Cheer! to St Francis’ Church in Bournville, in aid of St Mary’s Hospice in Selly Oak.

Beginning at 7.30pm, the programme includes readings given by BBC Midlands Today’s Claire Marshall. Paul Spicer conducts, with Paul Carr presiding at the organ, and wine, coffee and mince pies add to the festivities. All details on 0121 472 1191.

The same forces bring a further contribution to the festive season with the traditional service of Nine Lessons and Carols, in the Georgian jewel which is St Paul’s Church in the heart of the Jewellery Quarter (Sunday, December 18, 4pm, admission free).

And an organisation which has melded Christmas into its concert season over too many decades to count is the City of Birmingham Choir, which presents its annual performances of Handel’s Messiah next Friday and the following Tuesday.

Both performances begin at 7pm, but an interesting variant this year is the fact that they will be presented at different venues.

The Friday concert is at Symphony Hall but on Tuesday the choir returns to its old Town Hall home – a welcome move perhaps enforced by the blockbuster Alfie Boe sell-out that evening at Symphony Hall.

Adrian Lucas conducts the CBC and the CBSO, the amazing countertenor William Purefoy is among the soloists and Thomas Trotter relinquishes his habitual organ-loft into the care of Roger Judd, sliding instead onto the stool of harpsichord continuo (details on 0121 780 3333).

In its own right, the CBSO determinedly continues to offer riches in its subscription series before it eventually succumbs to the Christmas spirit.

Tonight (Thursday) the charismatic American conductor takes the orchestra through an attractive all-Scandinavian programme which neatly presents the greatest composers of three of the major countries of the region; only Sweden’s Berwald is missing.

Finland’s Sibelius contributes his Fourth Symphony, one of the CBSO’s signature tunes, thanks to famous recordings under both Simon Rattle and Sakari Oramo; Denmark’s Carl Nielsen is represented by his evocative, other-worldly Third Symphony Sinfonia Espansiva, vocal soloists Inger Dam-Jensen (soprano) and baritone Jeremy Huw Wiliams addressing each other across the void.

And between these two gritty masterpieces comes a charming selection of orchestral songs by Norway’s Edvard Grieg. Both he and Sibelius stood at various times on the podium of Birmingham Town Hall, as guests of the Birmingham Triennial Festival. They would have been overjoyed at Symphony Hall. The concert begins at 7.30pm, with details on 0121 780 3333.

Next Wednesday brings a CBSO biggie, with Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony.

CBSO music director Andris Nelsons was lined up to conduct this but has withdrawn from his December performances due to the imminent arrival of his first child.

Nelsons' place will be taken by Nikolaj Znaider.

This is one of the most gorgeous and heartening works in the repertoire, beginning with a gloriously soaring cello melody, and it never looks back after that fabulous opening. Anyone who doesn’t know Bruckner will find their hand held into the wonderful world of his symphonies by this work.

This performance is preceded by the UK premiere of a Feeney Trust co-commission, the Fourth Symphony, of Danish composer Poul Ruders. There is an important part for organ, with city of Birmingham organist Trotter to the fore.

The Bruckner is repeated on December 10, when the BBC broadcaster Stephen Johnson precedes the performance with his user-friendly guided tour, taking the audience through live examples delivered the orchestra.

Wednesday, December 14, brings probably the most important concert featuring in every CBSO season, when all concerned give their services free of charge to support the CBSO Benevolent Fund (in recognition of the contribution the orchestra members, who perhaps have fallen upon difficult times, make to our spiritual well-being).

This year’s event brings more Sibelius, the sumptuous Second Symphony, and begins with the Festival Overture by Shostakovich.

Filling in the sandwich is the equally sumptuous Third Piano Concerto of Rachmaninov, with Solihull-based Peter Donohoe – such a good friend of the CBSO and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group – the soloist. CBSO associate conductor Michael Seal conducts (7.30pm, details on 0121 780 3333).

And, in heroic defiance of the Christmas avalanche, Symphony Hall hosts one of the repertoire’s mightiest works, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (the Choral) on Friday, December 16 (7.30pm).

Sir John Eliot Gardiner conducts the London Symphony Orchestra and the Monteverdi Choir, and Welsh National Opera favourite soprano Rebecca Evans leads the vocal soloists (details on 0121 780 3333).

> More information:
www.cbso.co.uk 
www.bcmg.org.uk
www.citychoir.org.uk