The Rachel S. Thaler Concert Pianist Series was established at Ithaca College in 1991 in honor of Rachel Thaler.
A native Ithacan and talented pianist, Rachel Thaler attended the Ithaca public schools and graduated from Ithaca High School. She was awarded a scholarship to attend the Ithaca Conservatory of Music, but her father's unexpected death shortly before classes began required her to change her plan and step in to manage the family's furniture business instead.
Although she was never able to formally pursue her studies at the conservatory, Mrs. Thaler saw to it that her two sons and six grandchildren all had the opportunity to play musical instruments. Her love of music remained strong, as did her attachment to Ithaca College. Both she and her husband, Louis K. Thaler, were devoted supporters of the Friends of Ithaca College and members of the Tower Club for many years.
In addition to her musical skill, Rachel Thaler was a talented artist. She worked with needle painting, an ancient Chinese technique that uses pieces of colored thread rather than paint to create the image. Her work has been exhibited at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and in Rochester and Syracuse, and her technique has been featured in a video produced by the New York State Council on the Arts. Mrs. Thaler died in 2004, at the age of 97.
In endowing the concert series in 1991, Manley H. Thaler said, "My mother has always had an affinity for music. We wanted to do something in her honor during her lifetime. Because of her interest in Ithaca College and its outstanding music program, it was clear that the endowment fund should be created here."
The legacy of the Thalers' love of music lives on today through the Rachel S. Thaler Concert Pianist Series and the Louis K. Thaler Concert Violinist Series, which was established in 2002. The Thaler/Howell Foundation, through the efforts of Manley H. Thaler, endowed both series to recognize and honor Rachel and Louis Thaler and to ensure that outstanding pianists and violinists would always perform for the Ithaca College community and the residents of the surrounding area.