Each year, CMW presents a series of concerts around certain themes, one of which is the Experimental Music Concert. This concert features CMW youth and  guest composers creating new work together. This year, The Wonder Show has been invited to incorporate a visual component to this concert. We have the exciting opportunity to work with CMW youth and composers to create original accompaniment for a segment of the Arctic Theatre Royal! The 4th Annual Experimental Music Concert will be presented on Saturday, June 7th.

Below is an excerpt of CMW students testing out different sounds to mimic the arctic:


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The Wonder Show will be presenting a segment of their work in progress: The Arctic Theatre Royal, at Summer Street Dinner Theater: a performance series funded by RISCA. 

For this event, The Wonder Show will debut their first written version of The Arctic Theatre Royal. This work is will be performed in its entirety in June as part of the Providence Athenaeum’s salon series, more information for this event to come!




Accompanying The Wonder Show’s, Arctic Theatre Royal performance, will be a pop-up exhibit located at the Providence Athenaeum highlighting the historic materials used as inspiration for this work. Many of the slides that will be used in the performance come directly from images photographed in the collections, and most if not all of the narrative of the show is direct excerpts from Parry’s journal as well as the North Georgia Gazette.  This exhibit will offer individuals the opportunity to view these incredible materials first hand and learn more about the extensive holdings of the Providence Athenaeum.

In addition, we are delighted to announce that Russell Potter Ph. D. and Professor of English and Media Studies at Rhode Island College will be giving a lecture for the opening of this exhibit. Russell has been fascinated with the Arctic regions for many years, and has written and lectured extensively on many different aspects of its history. His publications on the topic include polar exploration (Arctic Spectacles, 2007), and panoramas (in The Panorama in the Old World and the New.  Russell will be giving a lecture for the Athenaeum-Wonder Show project sharing the history of spectacle that surrounds arctic exploration and visual culture.

Russell also has a blog, Visions of the North, that has been a great source of information for this site.



image courtesy of Russell Potter

image courtesy of Russell Potter

I just ordered this CD that contains all the different songs that were originally played in Parry’s Organ:

Parry’s Barrel Organ
John Longman’s New Invented Patent Barrel Organ with bells, drum and triangle
From Barrel No. 4
God Save the King, March in Blue Beard, Duke ofYork’s March, Minuet by Vandermere [5:10]
Lady Montgomery’s Reel, Miss Murray’s Strathspey, Paddy O’Rafferty, The Chartreuse  [4:54]
From Barrel No. 3
De’il Amongst the Taylors, Fife Hunt, Lord McDonald’s Reel, Mrs. Gordon of Troop) [3:52]
La Conservatoire, Ramah Droog, Speed the Plough [2:55]
From Barrel No. 5
Two unidentified titles [1:52]
From Barrel No. 2
100thPsalm, Morning Hymn, Sicilian Mariners, Portuguese, Adeste Fideles [5:54]
From Barrel No. 1
Stowr Lodge, Mdm. Hillingbury, Lord Howis Reel, Highlandman-Reel, Polly Put the Kettle On  [4:50]
From Barrel No. 2
Evening Hymn, German Hymn, 36thPsalm, 104thPsalm [5:33]
From Barrel No. 5
Three unidentified tunes [2:56]

parry's organ

“The SPRI Museum holds a number of items associated with William Edward Parry. perhaps the most unusual of these is a barrel organ, which Parry took with him on his expedition to the North Pole. The flag which Parry flew at his farthest North point is also in the collection, as are some of the first drawings made by Eskimo with pencils and paper. Many of these items are too fragile to be on permanent display, but they are often included in temporary exhibits.”


Listed throughout the Gazette are several songs that accompanied theatrical acts. Music was something that was present on board the ships. Captain Parry played the fiddle and the ship was outfitted with miniature pipe-organs that played Sunday hymns. The organs were used during daily exercise routines, in which organs cranked away as the men jogged circles round the deck.

Here are some of the songs identified in the North Georgia Gazette, and contemporary recordings of them I found online:

what the miniature organ would have sounded like:


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