Philippe Herreweghe was born in Ghent and studied at both the university and music conservatory there, studying piano with Marcel Gazelle. He also started to conduct during this period, and founded Collegium Vocale Gent in 1970. He was invited by Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Gustav Leonhardt, who had noticed his innovative work, to participate in their recordings of the complete cantatas of J.S. Bach.
Herreweghe’s energetic, authentic and rhetorical approach to baroque music was soon drawing praise. In 1977, he founded the ensemble La Chapelle Royale in Paris, with whom he performed music of the French Golden Age. From 1982 to 2002, he was artistic director of the Académies Musicales de Saintes. Since 2009, Philippe Herreweghe and Collegium Vocale Gent have been actively working on the development of a large European-level symphonic choir, at the invitation of the prestigious Accademia Chigiana in Siena and from 2011 with the support of the European Union’s Cultural Programme. Since 1997, Philippe Herreweghe has been principal conductor of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic. He was appointed permanent guest conductor of the Netherlands’ Radio Chamber Philharmonic since 2008.
Over the years, Philippe Herreweghe has built up an extensive discography of more than 100 recordings on such labels as Harmonia Mundi France, Virgin Classics and Pentatone. Highlights include the Lagrime di San Pietro of Lassus, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, Mahler’s song cycle Des Knaben Wunderhorn, and the Symphony of Psalms by Stravinsky. In 2010 he founded together with Outhere Music his own label ? (PHI), in order to give himself full artistic freedom to build up a rich and varied catalogue.
Philippe Herreweghe has received numerous European awards for his consistent artistic imagination and commitment. He was awarded the Belgian order of Officier des Arts et Lettres, and an honorary doctorate from the Catholic University of Leuven. In 2003, he received the French title Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, and in 2010 the city of Leipzig awarded him its Bach-Medaille for his great service as a performer of Bach.