Philippe Herreweghe studied piano with Marcel Gazelle while pursuing university studies. Around that time, he started conducting and in 1970 founded Collegium Vocale Gent. In 1977, in Paris, he founded the La Chapelle Royale ensemble, with which he performed music of the French Golden Age. As artistic director of the Académies Musicales de Saintes, from 1982 until 2002, he founded the Ensemble Vocal Européen, specialised in Renaissance polyphony, and the Orchestre des Champs Elysées, with the aim of playing the Romantic and pre-Romantic repertoire on original instruments. Since 2011, Herreweghe and Collegium Vocale have been actively working on the development of a large European-level symphonic choir.
Since 1997 Herreweghe is principal conductor of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic (deFilharmonie). In 2010, together with Outhere Music, he founded his own label φ (PHI), in order to obtain full artistic freedom to build up a varied catalogue.