Shevet Achim (Brothers Dwell) for two bass clarinets is a response to the troubled relationship between the descendants of half-brothers Yitzchak and Yishmael (sons of Abraham), now Israelis and Palestinians. Written in fall, 2000, the piece roils with the conflict between the two peoples, expressing both intense animosity and common identification. It has been observed that the most intense conflicts are between peoples whose lives and histories are intertwined on many levels. A photograph of a confrontation between an Israeli soldier and a Palestinian is emblematic: the two men are eyeball to eyeball, a direct encounter of wills. Inherent in this encounter is an intimacy which, if allowed to soften slightly, could lead to recognition of commonality, of shared ancestry and the possibility of reconciliation.
The composition exploits the acoustic properties of the bass clarinet. Color trills, tremolos, flutter tongue, glissandi, quarter tones, extreme low and high registers help express the of intensity of conflict. In contrast, the audible overtones in the low register, two voices contained in one, represent resonance, mutual recognition. As the piece progresses, the moments of recognition become longer, softer; the possibility of another path emerges, even though the conflict does not yet completely recede.
The title recalls the verse from Psalms, which became a popular Israeli song by A. Jacobson, “Hine ma tov u ma nayim, shevet achim gam yachad (How good and how pleasant it is when brothers dwell together as one).” May these brothers and sisters, these two peoples, soon be able to dwell together in harmony and peace.
— Meira Warshauer, 2001