The transcendental sounds of the Middle East will transfix Taos when the Oud Strings musical instrument supplier opens here in June.
The online shop, once owned and operated by Brian Prunka in Brooklyn, New York, is slated to re-open under the stewardship of one of its most devoted customers, oud player, guitarist and Taoseño Mustafa Stefan Dill.
“I’m glad to have been able to help so many fellow oud players find the right strings,” said Prunka. “My primary work has always been performing and teaching, and I wanted to focus more exclusively on that. It’s just time to move on.”
Prunka closed his Brooklyn operation in June 2020. His shop supplied strings to oud players of all styles around the world, as well as valuable support and advice.
“Brian’s dedication to both service and product is unique, and I needed that when I acquired a new oud,” said Dill. An oud is a short-neck, lute-type, fretless string instrument typically found in North Africa, the Middle East and Balkan countries like Greece and Bulgaria.
“It got me thinking — this was a void that needed to be filled again,” he said.
Dill, who also has a background in media and communications (he worked for Taos News), planned the takeover with Prunka over the last several months. An SBA-backed small business loan from the New Mexico Loan Fund helped make it all happen.
“I’m honored to be entrusted with the legacy of what [Prunka] created,” said Dill. “We’ve also brainstormed a lot on where the business can go, and that’s exciting.”
“The Turkish baglama, for example — you can’t find a quality American source or manufacturer of strings for them, so that’s something I’m investigating,” he said. Dill also wants to organize an oud festival in Taos.
“Mustafa and I had a lot of conversations about the business, and his vision for serving the oud community,” said Prunka. “I’m really glad that he’ll be the one to keep [it] alive, building on the work I started. I have a lot of confidence that he’s going to do a great job.”
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