Warren York (1938-2011)

<--- Warren's Trademark Red Socks! All the better to see him work the pedals.

This master organist played the Virginia Theater's Wurlitzer theater organ for many years before films, plays and at other events such as the New Year's Eve Singalong and the Roger Ebert Film Festival. I frequently went to see movies at the Virginia just so I could sit near the console and watch him play! One time he played a live accompaniment for Lon Chaney's Phantom of the Opera on Halloween...he had all the cues worked out and synched sound effects to the film along with the music. AWESOME! He also did constant maintenance on the organ.

Here is a recording of Mr. York playing the Wurlitzer (from the Virginia Theater's web page).

Dreamer's Holiday (1.7 MB mp3)

Here are some demo recordings of him playing on the Milan Audio Virtual Wurlitzer, which was sampled from the Virginia Theater's organ. It has some other sounds included, too, like the piano you hear in Good Night, Wherever You Are.

Good Night, Wherever You Are (5.4 MB mp3)
I Saw You (3 MB mp3)
This Is It! (the Bugs Bunny song) (1.9 MB mp3)
Dreamer's Holiday (2.1 MB mp3)

The River City Theater Organ Society (RCTOS) in Omaha, Nebraska has posted some videos on YouTube of recordings of Warren's performances at the RCTOS Christmas Party in 2003 on the Markworth Kimball 3/24 Theatre Pipe Organ:

Hard-Hearted Hannah
Opus One

Here is a short YouTube video of Warren playing at the Roger Ebert Film Festival in 2008. I also have a local copy of it here.

The last few years of his life, Warren was in poor health and unable to perform. He was greatly missed at the Roger Ebert Festival.

Media Stories AboutWarren

  1. News-Gazette article from the day of Warren's funeral, 6-29-2011
  2. Illinois Public Media article 6-29-2011
  3. News-Gazette article from February 2011
  4. News-Gazette article about Ebertfest from February 2009
  5. 2006 story on the Virginia Theater (1.9MB mp3)
  6. 2001 WILL radio story (3.6MB mp3).
  7. 2000 article from The Octopus, a Champaign/Urbana arts periodical.