He replaces Tony Fell, who has held the position for eight years. Sheffield is currently artistic director of the Barbican Centre and has been on the RPS council since 1999.
Sheffield, who takes up the post on December 7, said, "I look forward to leading the society toward even higher ground as a potent force for classical music—one which is strong, articulate, and, when required, evangelical about the profound, diverse benefits and pleasures of this great area of artistic creativity. . . The RPS is the only independent voice for classical music in the U.K. Let us make a difference."
The RPS promotes classical music through a program of events, commissions, lectures, and awards. Its gold medal for outstanding musicianship was established in 1870 and has been awarded fewer than 90 times.