Gabriela Montero Wins Václav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent

23 May 2024

Gabriela Montero has been awarded the Václav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent by The Human Rights Foundation (HRF).

HRF Founder Thor Halvorssen said, “Every year, the Havel Prize celebrates individuals who, with courage and creativity, unmask tyranny and embody the concept of ‘Living in Truth,’ as relevant today as when it was articulated by Václav Havel almost 45 years ago. Their work stands as a testament to extraordinary bravery and ingenuity,”

This year’s laureates will be recognized during a ceremony on Tuesday, 4 June at the 2024 Oslo Freedom Forum (OFF) in Oslo, Norway. Montero will be performing the European and Scandinavian premiere of “Canaima: A Quintet for Piano and Strings” at the Oslo Konserthus.

The Havel Prize ceremony will also be broadcast live at

Gabriela Montero is an internationally acclaimed Venezuelan pianist and composer. Montero’s journey of creative dissent began in 2011 with her first orchestral composition, “Ex Patria,” a tone poem designed to illustrate and protest Venezuela’s descent into lawlessness, corruption, and violence. Her recording of the work won a Latin Grammy® for Best Classical Album in 2015. Further compositions followed, including the “Latin Concerto” (2016), “Babel” (2018), and “Canaima; a Quintet for piano and Strings” (2024).

Winner of the 4th International Beethoven Award, Montero is a committed human rights advocate whose voice regularly reaches beyond the concert hall. She was named an Honorary Consul by Amnesty International in 2015. In January 2020, she was invited to give the Dean’s Lecture on creative dissent at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute and has spoken and performed twice at the World Economic Forum in Davos. She was awarded the 2012 Rockefeller Award for her contribution to the arts and was a featured performer at Barack Obama’s 2009 Presidential Inauguration.

The Havel Prize is named after the late Czech president, poet, playwright, dissident, statesman, and former HRF chairman, Václav Havel. Havel led the nonviolent revolution that freed Czechoslovakia from Communist rule, creatively challenging arbitrary power and injustice in his country.

HRF launched the Havel Prize in 2012 with the support of Dagmar Havlová, Havel’s widow. Laureates received a bronze sculpture depicting the “Goddess of Democracy,” the iconic figure erected by Chinese students during the Tiananmen Square protests in June 1989. In addition, each laureate will receive a prize of USD 50,000.

Previous laureates include performance project Stand Up for Ukraine, Nicaraguan political cartoonist Pedro X. Molina, prominent Ugandan novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, Iranian artist project PaykanArtCar, late Rwandan gospel musician and activist Kizito Mihigo, Saudi women’s rights activist Manal al-Sharif, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, South Sudanese activist and musician Emmanuel Jal, the Belarus Free Theatre, Cuban civil society group the Ladies in White, and Thai band Rap Against Dictatorship.