Stendahl’s Ross on Grieg, Gynt, Gump and Glastonbury

Ross Parkhill is the Project Director/Founder Stendhal Festival of Art which takes place annually near Limavady.

Stendhal Festival is an annual outdoor event featuring music, comedy, dance, poetry, workshops and family-friendly fun.

Established in 2011, the festival’s name is a reference to Stendhal syndrome - a psychological condition resulting in dizziness experienced by people exposed to things of great beauty.

Here Ross answers our questions:

Ross Parkhill

Q. What is your favourite song/album and why?
A. Karma Police - OK Computer, Radiohead. Favourite moment at first festival, Glastonbury 2003. The energy of the crowd during that song was something else. Inspired Karma Valley, the heart of our festival site at Stendhal.
Q. What is your favourite film and why?
A. Probably still Forrest Gump, it’s a long time since I watched it. A simple yet epic life - if you put your head to something and get the basics right, especially in the face of other people who laugh and mock your ideas, you can be accomplished, in your field... or shrimp boat.
Q. What is your favourite piece of classical music and why?
A. Edvard Grieg’s Morning from Peer Gynt. I’ve always loved it and then a minute after my son was born it came on (my Spotify shuffle was playing) and it was his first full piece of music upon entering planet earth. It seemed pretty apt given it was in the early early hours of the morning.
Q. Who is your favourite artist (eg van Gogh) and why?
A. Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama. Her life story is fascinating. I went to her exhibition at Southbank Centre in 2009/10 and fell in love with her work.

Her infinity installations are something everyone should experience. I look forward to getting back to London as soon as possible for her current show at the Tate.
Q. What is your favourite play and why?
A. Waiting for Godot, because it was my one and only time seeing Sir Ian McKellen onstage. As you’d expect, he was phenomenal.
Q. What is your favourite musical and why?
A. I don’t have much experience with musicals, so it would probably have to be something from years ago. I’ve always fancied having a chocolate factory to be fair!
Q. What is your most special moment in the arts and why?
A. That has to be my first festival (and proper gig), Glastonbury 2003. Coming from a small rural town I hadn’t been bothered much with music or the arts at all.

Going to Glastonbury aged 20, I was in awe at this whole world that existed, caught the bug and spend my life exploring it and ultimately  creating a camping festival in our hometown – promoting the arts to others. We believe Stendhal 2019 was historic, as the largest ever gathering of tents in the history of Northern Ireland, we’ll take that.
Q. What ‘classic’ just doesn’t do it for you?
A. I never got into any Shakespeare at all. I lacked confidence reading aloud at school at the best of times.
Q. What have you been reading/watching/listening to/revisiting during the Coronavirus period?
A. It’s over ten years since I watched a TV series, but during lockdown I made the return with Ozark on Netflix - it was enjoyable.

I took a trip down memory lane with Cobra Kai, cheesy but enjoyed it too. 

Ross Parkhill

I was fortunate to be at 103 gigs in 2020 before lockdown, I’ve had serious fatigue for online gigs/ performances on the whole. It’s hard to beat the real thing, but I have enjoyed the recent Vicar Street series and Other Voices was pretty special.
My latest read is ‘Irresolute Clay’ which is mainly about the shaping of modern environmental law – it was a gift from the author (Richard Macrory).

It’s very insightful and nice to read of his illustrious career – he (and colleagues) closed Whitehall in the early 70’s for cyclists to protest - thus establishing cycle lanes in London, something I’ve just grown up with and took for granted, like much else.

* For further information on the Stendahl Festival, check out