ARTS & LEISURE, FEATURE — January 3, 2021 at 8:56 pm

Senior Gabriel Ammirata reminisces about his journey with music

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Senior Gabriel Ammirata plays on the marimba for the Eagle Regiment marching band with social distancing guidelines. Photo courtesy of Gabriel Ammirata
Senior Gabriel Ammirata plays on the marimba for the Eagle Regiment marching band with social distancing guidelines. Photo courtesy of Gabriel Ammirata

Gabriel Ammirata, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, has been a musician since elementary school. Growing up in Coral Springs, he was originally zoned for Coral Glades High School but moved to Parkland going into his freshman year where he continued his musical career.

“I started music in elementary school, playing piano just for leisure but also because I wanted to learn how to play some pieces,” Ammirata said. “I transitioned to band in middle school, starting on low brass but moving to percussion. I [have] played percussion ever since.”

Throughout exploring a variety of instruments and partaking in the Eagle Regiment marching band at MSD, Ammirata has gotten to meet many skilled musicians and enjoy various aspects of music. As a result of being a musician, he has been to the Super Bowl, Indoor Percussion World Championships, marching band regional competitions and high-tier jazz clubs.

“Taking part in concert band camps or even marching band camps over the summer has taught me fundamentals and has shown me how great playing music with other people can be,” Ammirata said.

Ammirata has received many accolades and titles during his musical journey. A few of his most notable accomplishments include placing first in the Florida Marching Band Championships two years in a row and placing fourth in international championships with Stryke, his independent indoor percussion group. Furthermore, he is a current co-captain of the MSD percussion section.

“Working with Gabe as a co-captain has been near perfect,” co-captain of the percussion section Sophia Pemble said. “I know that many times a lot of co-captains won’t get along or don’t work together well but I think he’s a great person to work with and we’ve never had any problems.” 

Ammirata has learned a variety of values being a musician such as being detailed and maintaining a comfortable atmosphere around others. Being a part of the band’s leadership has improved his understanding of logistics and of people both externally and internally. 

“[Gabriel] is a great leader and has an amazing dedication to not only his position but also to music. He constantly encourages my section to continue learning and practicing music for the improvement of the group even in our off time,” sophomore Grace Cavaretta said. “He exemplifies that very well through our own percussion groups and outside groups as well.”

The percussion section at MSD consists of two groups: the drumline and the front ensemble. Ammirata is a key member in the front ensemble, playing the marimba during the marching band season. He is also in the Wind Symphony, the highest concert band. 

“Gabe’s character and talent, in all honesty, is astonishing,” Pemble said. “He’s extremely hardworking and smart and he knows what he needs to do in order to succeed, whether it’s in band or in classes, which has made him an amazing player and a role model musician and person in general.”

Outside of band, Ammirata is involved with the Astronomy Club and Marjory’s Garden Club. He also enjoys biking around whenever he has the chance. Besides giving up much of his time to music, Ammirata chose to have fun in his high school years. 

“I decided a few days before my sophomore year photo to wear the same shirt that I wore my freshman year,” Ammirata said. “I have done it since and finished it off this year with my senior photo. The Fox-Mar photographer thought it was really funny as well.”

Currently, Ammirata is undecided about what he wants to pursue in college but he is considering minoring in music theory. He also hopes to teach a couple of front ensemble groups in the area and compose music when he has the chance.

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Ivy Lam is a sophomore at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. She is the Coordinator of Press Releases for DECA, the secretary for HOSA and an Assistant EIC for the Eagle Eye newspaper. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing and traveling.

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